Warriors Grand Final match report
From the AFL website
IRELAND has come from four goals down to win the 2011 International Cup, defeating Papua New Guinea by 18 points at the MCG on Saturday.
It is the Warriors’ second major title on the world stage and an unforgettable performance enjoyed by all spectators at the home of football.
When the match needed a hero – and when Ireland in particular needed a spark after trailing by 24 points in the second term – they got one through 192-centimetre Michael Finn.
Having started the match in defence, the Irish coaches pushed Finn forward and he instantly starred.
Two goals in the second quarter and a match-winning major in the fourth term were among his highlights in a best on ground performance.
It was a fitting end to the International Cup, claimed in spectacular fashion by the never-say-die attitude of the Irish. It caps off a remarkable tournament following the Ireland women’s side claiming the inaugural women’s International Cup.
For Papua New Guinea, they’ll be ruing their missed opportunities in front of goal and the chance to be the first side to win back to back titles.
Unfortunately for the Mosquitoes, it wasn’t meant to be, despite dominating the first half and having their chance to build a match-winning lead at the main break.
Ireland had too many players who stood up when needed in the second half, most notably Finn, Roch Hanmore (No.14) and Fearghal Purcell’s (No.10) crucial leadership and poise.
In the end Ireland was simply too determined and too good, claiming their second International Cup by 18 points over the team they defeated in their golden year, 2002.
It was a highly entertaining match where there were huge pack marks, crunching tackles and clutch goals from the boundary. All in all, an excellent exhibition of the quality and style of international footballers playing the great game.
The opening quarter was riddled by turnovers as both teams tried desperately to get over their opponents’ defensive walls and settle some early nerves.
PNG struck the first blow through Ali Pinda (No.13) and player of the tournament Stanis Susuve (No.21) followed up with another major before the Warriors could register a goal.
Ireland had plenty of chances in the term but couldn’t find a target in their forward-50. When Fergal McManus (No.4) stepped up for the Warriors and kicked an all important settling goal before the Mosquitoes hit back as David Meli (No.7) took advantage of a free kick just before the quarter-time siren to push his team’s lead out to 14 points.
PNG picked up where they left off in the second term as Brisbane Lions scholarship holder Brendon Beno (No.1) showed the reason why he’s got the potential to have a long and successful AFL career with a classy goal to extend his side’s lead to four straight kicks.
As the Irish do best, they continued to fight and some brilliance by Michael Finn (No.9), who kicked two goals in a minute, helped reduce the margin to 16 points at half-time.
Ireland emerged from the long break determined to get off to a good start and that’s exactly what they did. McManus kicked his team’s first for the term, and second of the match, then he followed it up moments later with another goal to get his side within five points of PNG.
With the momentum behind them, the Irish were saving their best until last and were continually pressuring their opponents to reduce the margin to one point at the final change.
The stage was set for a cracking final term and the star of the match Michael Finn (No.9) showed his class by kicking a crucial goal from outside-50 on the boundary, his third for the match, to put his team into the lead for the first time.
With 12 minutes to go on the clock, PNG was not going to let this match slip but despite having their chances they couldn’t put pressure on the scoreboard.
Ireland was two goals in front when Purcell kicked truly and with one hand on this year’s International Cup, the Warriors fought until the end to claim the title by 18 points for the second time.
A hard fought victory for a deserving winner.
Ireland 8.5 (53) def Papua New Guinea 5.5 (35)
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