THREE long years after succumbing to Ireland in the 2011 International Cup Final, Papua New Guinea has its revenge.
PNG, nicknamed the Mosquitoes, came with a rush in the 2014 decider to defeat the Irish 6.9 (45) to 6.6 (42).
After a slow start and with key men on the sidelines, they made all the running in the second half to claim a remarkable three-point victory.
Semi Final heroes Amua Pirika, the tournament’s leading goal kicker, and captain John James played almost no part in the upset win, which sees the Pacific Island nation claim it’s second International Cup.
In the moments that mattered though, their teammates stepped up to the plate.
Undersized against a giant Irish outfit, the Mosquitoes bore in and sprinted into the wide-open spaces to eventually haul in the Warriors.
Three points behind, after Irish skipper Mick Finn had slotted his fourth goal, PNG surged forward where ruckman John Ikupu leapt to drag in a huge pack mark and goal from the top of the goal square.
After competing against a trio of Irish giants all night in the centre square, the match-defining moment was just reward and deservedly delivered Ikupu the medal for best-on-ground.
Tenacious midfielder Gideon Simon, who spent time on Richmond’s rookie list, followed up with another goal a minute later to give PNG a nine-point lead.
Irish key forward Padraig Lucey dragged back the deficit with a mark and goal seconds before full time but it was too little too late.
While Pirika tried to play after injuring a knee late in the semi-final, he was clearly restricted and left the field before half time.
His absence was devastating for PNG with live-wire Brendan Beno carrying a heavy load in attack.
Beno bagged an important major on the quarter time siren and followed up with the all important first goal of the final term.
With no tall to kick to, the Mosquitoes’ forward entries were often intercepted and the Irish defence led by Alan Farrell seemed in control for the majority of the night.
But up forward the Warriors faced their own concerns with Lucey marking strongly but failing to convert several long-range attempts.
Finn, named the player of the tournament at Gala Function on Friday night, loomed as the man most likely and began with the first three goals of the match.
His side, however, would score just three goals for the remainder of the match, including Lucey’s in the dying seconds.
PNG’s speed proved insurmountable with smalls Theo Guvuri, Jeconiah Peni and Simon doing plenty of damage at ground level.
Their relentless attack on the ball and ability to find space on the wide expanses of the MCG were critical and ultimately denied the Irish back-to-back titles.
The pocket of PNG supports in attendance erupted at the final siren as players raced from the bench to join their teammates in wild celebrations.
The match caps an action-packed 14 days of competition which saw 25 teams from 18 nations take-part in both men’s and women’s divisions.
Earlier at Punt Road Oval, Canada Northern Lights claimed the Women’s crown with a 26-point win over Ireland.
PNG: 1.2 3.4 3.8 6.9 (45)
Ireland: 3.2 3.4 4.5 6.6 (42)
PNG: Beno 2, Ikupu, Gideon, So-ong, Agita
Ireland: Finn 4, Henry, Lucey
PNG: Ikupu, Beno, Simon, Guvuri, Peni
Ireland: Finn, Farrell, P. O’Halloran, O’Regan, Bartley