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'Unders' could get Ireland over the line against Aussies

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Dustin Fletcher may have his work cut out for him against Ireland. Picture: Getty - ${keywords}
Dustin Fletcher may have his work cut out for him against Ireland. Picture: Getty
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INTERNATIONAL Rules umpire Simon Meredith says Ireland's potency in attack looms as the biggest challenge for Australia on Saturday night, after watching the visitors slam through nine goals in a practice match this week.

The Irish made light work of a VFL representative side last Sunday at Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham, despite falling away in the last quarter.

They had a spread of goalkickers, with Cork's Colm O'Neill top-scoring with four, and showed confidence in going for the lucrative "under" when in their attacking zone.

Meredith, who officiated the first half of the Irish squad's 73-point win, said their goalkicking power was something the Australians needed to be wary of.  

"Just their ability to use the round ball, their passing of the ball … they're very impressive," Meredith told AFL.com.au.

"They're big boys and very quick, they play on because there's obviously no marking in their game so they just play on all the time.

"They look very sharp and their skills with the round ball and their ability to score unders when they're in that box … they can just find the net.

"They were very good and they're very quick and agile."

While Port Adelaide forward Chad Wingard looked dangerous in Australia’s practice match on Tuesday with three goals, the Irish have a bevy of players who can threaten goalkeeper Dustin Fletcher.

Captain Michael Murphy kicked two goals in their win over the VFL squad, while Brisbane Lions' midfielder Pearce Hanley, veteran International Rules player Sean Cavanagh and Aidan O'Shea also found the net.

They also showed off a team full of strong bodies in the shortened practice run, as well as a willingness to physically match it with their opponents when challenged.

But Meredith isn't worried that Saturday night's game could deteriorate into the sort of violence that has featured in previous series.

"A bit of physicality is OK, as long as they don't go over the top but I think that's passed - no one wants that otherwise the series won't go ahead," he said.

"I think everyone loves being involved in it, so we'll just let them play and if anything goes over the top, they know they get sent off the ground.

"Hopefully it doesn't come to that."

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After being an emergency in Australia's tour of Ireland 12 months ago, Meredith will umpire the Test at Patersons Stadium with Irish official Marty Duffy.

Meredith sought advice from fellow AFL umpire Matt Stevic, who officiated last year, on how to adapt to the hybrid game's rules.

"Everything (with) AFL is second nature; you know what you're doing," he said.

"Here you've got to be aware of kicking backwards, the number of bounces, the number of handballs, taking possession on the ground.

"There's so many different things and they all add up and you've just got to be on your toes at all times.

"It's a good experience, it's good fun. The boys start pre-season next week so it gets me out of a couple of weeks of that, so that's the nice thing about it."

- The match will be played in support of White Ribbon, a campaign to stop violence against women.

Tom Meagher, husband of the late Jill Meagher, an Irish woman living in Australia who was murdered in Melbourne in 2012, will take an oath during the pre-match ceremony on field to support White Ribbon's anti-violence campaign and g White Ribbon Day on November 25.
 
Members of both teams will be wearing a white ribbon as a symbol of their support.
 
Mr Meagher will also perform the coin toss pre-match and will present the McAnallen Trophy to the winning team after the game.