The AFL and
Ireland’s Gaelic Athletic Association need to get their hybrid series house in
order after last Friday’s sometimes vicious and needlessly violent match at Melbourne’s Telstra Dome.

As a
bastardised compromise of two massively popular domestic football codes peculiar
to their own countries, its evolution is
still highly problematic.

Irish coach
Pete McGrath was right to be critical of what he saw as unacceptable “acts of
villainy”, led by Australian co-captain Chris Johnson’s red-carded “coat hanger,” before he went on with it when the Irish
descended on him for swift retribution. But as the
Nine coverage showed in graphic slow motion replay, the Irish were hardly choir
boys themselves, with Luke Hodge taking a direct a hit where the sun rarely
shines when he was kicked by a player lying prone on the deck while Hodge stood over him.

Yet the aggregate crowd of more than 80,000, including 45,000 at Telstra Dome, proves
the hybrid game works for both codes, even if they have yet to work out a
disciplinary code that more adequately punishes its

victory was also a triumph for coach Kevin Sheedy and his insistence on
exploiting the speed and skill of lesser known AFL players specifically
recruited to counter the Irish who won their home series last year 2-0. Now he must take his own brand of
coaching blarney back to his ancestral land next year and mentor a team that not
only has to win on the field, but face hostile home fans and a lurking
Irish media. They now resolutely blame
Australia as the violent culprits at Telstra Dome, while Sheedy predictably
defended his team as only responding to some earlier Irish “tap

Either way, the
game can do without Johnson’s coat-hanger, which will only up the
temperature in what is sure to be a hotly contested square-off for the Irish
next year and a tough away defence of Australia’s hard won home