Croke Park on a Saturday night, the cream of Gaelic Football, the best that Aussie Rules has to offer - it doesn't get better than this. I attended the Ireland vs Australia International Rules match, with my daughter Kate and her friend Viv, hoping to see a fast exciting game - this is what we got. While there were a lot of errors, particularly on the Irish side, the game ended up being a very close contest with a very exciting finish.
About 61,000 fans turned up and created a great atmosphere. The Irish Daily Mail were sponsors and had left a green flag and some goodies under each seat. There were also a lot of Australians shouting on their team - it's not often you'll see the Union Jack in Croke Park (it's part of Australian flag - they need a new one!).
The game was running away from the Irish (we were 17 points behind at one stage) until the third quarter when a scrappy goal (6 points) gave Ireland some hope. The fourth quarter was very exciting with the (amateur) Irish doing way better than the (professional) Australians. Several easy scoring opportunities were missed, but eventually Ireland took the lead for the first time with just minutes left. But credit to the Aussies who found the skill to score the winning points. At times they looked like they could take the ball at will from the Irish - they were also far better at finding the space that does so much to secure possession in their own game. See Dermot Crowe's match report in the Irish Independent.
On the evidence of this game, there is certainly a future for the International Rules series. God willing, I will be in Croke Park the next time the Aussies visit.