Canty: Ireland must lift game
WITH the International Rules series balanced on a knife edge, Graham Canty is calling on his Irish colleagues to ensure a vast improvement in performance this Saturday in Croke Park as they seek to overturn a seven-point deficit.
Canty, a veteran of the hybrid game with 13 caps, reckons Ireland never got out of the traps in the Gaelic Grounds last Saturday and acknowledges that Bernard Brogan's late goal and the subsequent scoring blast saved Ireland the embarrassment of being much further in arrears going into the second test.
"We're disappointed, we could have played an awful lot better," reckons Canty. "Only for our scoring spurt in the last 10 minutes we would have been in serious trouble."
The general consensus from last Saturday was that, quite simply, Australia played better football and Canty readily recognised their skill levels.
"They moved the ball better, especially across midfield," he said.
"They ran hard lines, they kicked well and they have a lot of speed and pace in their game. From what I hear, their players are picked because of that -- they are good ball players.
"They probably got 'marks' closer to goal. We were kicking from distance; they were kicking from 15 yards closer.
"We were taking tough kicks -- 40 yards out and not in front of goal. The marks within 30 yards we kicked (scored), more often than not.
"We were a little bit nervous -- maybe our composure wasn't great, a lot we can improve on.
"We were overran in the third quarter but finished well, which was encouraging. We have 72 minutes played now so we will both improve, but we would hope that there's more improving in us," he added.
Another feature of Saturday's first test was the absence of the physical confrontation which has blighted the game in the past and, as recently as 2006, put its future in jeopardy.
Canty says that those days are gone and slammed those who attempted to hype up the 'needle' in the run-up to last Saturday.
"I think both teams concentrated on playing football," said Canty. "Leading up to this, I was disappointed reading a few things with people trying to focus on one or two series that were over the top and weren't acceptable.
"I have played six or seven times now in different series, and an awful lot of those were very enjoyable.
"It was disappointing to read people focusing on the negative."
Meanwhile, Irish selector Kevin O'Brien has defended management's decision to have the pitch shortened last Saturday.
The boundaries of the Gaelic Grounds were brought in from their usual dimensions at the request of Anthony Tohill and his management team.
On Saturday, the endlines in Croke Park will be moved infield by 7.5 metres.
However, O'Brien stressed that the decision was made in order to make the playing area similar to that in which Ireland won the last series in 2008 and denied it was an attempt to compress the Australians.