So I was at the Ireland v Australia match last night at Subiaco Oval – 40,000 crowd (about 20,000 Irish it seemed!) and a good atmosphere, considering the Aussie public don’t really get that excited about this game, and they think it is actually Gaelic football (they don’t understand that it is a compromise of rules), but it was a shocking game for Ireland.
Australia picked a specific side for this game, rather than the best players from AFL, and it showed – they were quick, small, skillful, they scrapped less than previous years, and they actually shot with better accuracy than we did, which is embarrassing. They essentially invented a new tactical approach to the game – it may not have been obvious on TV, but they did this thing a bit like stacking in Ultimate Frisbee, where they sprinted in and out of a stack in the centre in a really organised, structured way, and handpassed back and forth really quickly, running rings around the Irish, who looked surprised. It was a bit like watching basketball expanded.
Benny Coulter from Down was the best player for us, and I was talking to him and Eoin Mulligan at about four in the morning in "Le Bog" (dubious Irish bar) – I asked Benny what happened, and he paused, looked at me, and said, "we were shite!" – so I told him that he had the best game of our lot, and asked him what they were going to change for next week. His answer was great: "well, I won’t do anything different, but the other lads will play better!"