herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Bernard gets back to basics

THE handy thing about having a second test – as Ireland do tomorrow evening – is it gives a team a chance to right the wrongs from last weekend.

Regrets? They have plenty. A whole pile of them, in fact. And as the man who salvaged the series explains, Ireland need to go back to basics to avoid an Aussie whitewash in Croke Park tomorrow.

Bernard Brogan’s goal kickstarted a belated Irish fightback in the Gaelic Grounds, dragging Ireland back to within swiping distance of Australia at a point in the match when it seemed inevitable that the visitors would waltz into an unreachable aggregate lead.

SHORTCOMINGS

To an extent, it masked the shortcomings in Ireland’s display but Brogan says Ireland are focusing on a couple of key areas where they expect a noted improvement to turn the series on its head. “I think we were expecting a bit more aggression so we avoided picking the ball up,” Brogan told the Herald.

“This weekend, we’ll probably take the ball a bit more and get more involved. “Basically, just play Gaelic football and try and go at them. You saw when we did that the last day, we opened them up. “We got in their faces. We gave them huge respect last weekend and they came out and played us off the park.

“We’re going to play our natural game and move the ball quick. “Our passing was very poor – everything was very poor last weekend. We couldn’t hit our players on the chest at all.

“But it’s huge to be out in Croke Park. It’s a different story there. I had never played in the Gaelic Grounds before. I’ve had some of the best days of my life in Croke Park.”

Ireland’s initial brief is to win tomorrow’s test but it’s clear that ambition is not lacking in Anthony Tohill’s dressing room either. If, as Brogan hopes, Ireland get off to a good start, they’ll target that seven-point deficit and look to win the series outright.

“We’re only two GAA points behind and that’s nothing in 72 minutes,” he said. “We’re not really worried about that. If we go out and put in a performance and get a couple scores, the confidence could be up.

“We need a big crowd and to get them behind us early. “When we got the goal the last day, even the Aussies were telling us they couldn’t believe the atmosphere.

“They found it hard to get back into the game. “I think the crowd getting behind us is huge because it shakes the Aussie lads and lifts the Irish.”

One mistake that Ireland are unlikely to make again tomorrow is the aimless high ball which they sent in on top of the aerially dominant Australian full-back line.

Brogan puts that oversight down to a collective panic but is counting on a change of distribution policy tomorrow.

“I think we just panicked a bit and started sending these long high balls in,” he noted. “They had loads of men behind the ball and in around their half-back line so they were sweeping up a lot of breaks.

“It was something that we tried and it didn’t work so I think that will be only a last option this weekend. “We should try and work the ball up the pitch with the mark.

“Ideally, you’d like to get a mark 50 or 60 yards out and then pop it to a runner inside who takes the score from 30 yards.

“We only did that twice or three times in the whole game the last time but that’s the easiest way to score. You just try and get that advantage.

“We’re going in with two kicks of the ball between the teams without us having really played,” added Brogan, “so we’re in good shape going into the game.”

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