In the autumn of 1967 an Australian Rules football squad visited Ireland for the first time for Gaelic football engagements. The visitors opened their campaign at Croke Park with a meeting against Meath on October 29th attracting a large attendance of 23,149 to Headquarters. Contacts on that tour led to the visit of Meath to Australia in March 1968.
Twelve months after their first visit Australia returned to Ireland holding Kerry to a draw and defeating All-Ireland champions at the time, Down. Kerry kept the contact alive with a World Tour in 1970. It wasn't until 1978 that Australia again returned to Ireland for a three match programme with a schools team from Victoria visiting Dublin in 1982.
In 1984 the first test series took place between the two countries with matches at Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Croke Park while Ireland made their first visit to Australia in 1986 with games at Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide.
However, it wasn't until 1998 that the series became an annual event with 2006 marking the ninth successive year of competition. A further test occurred in 2008 which Ireland claimed, while that was followed by the test series taking place in Ireland in October 2010 which saw the Aussies claim the honours.
Ireland recorded their highest scoring victories in test history between the years of 2010 and 2011, however a strong Australian side featuring a star studded line-up of 'All-Australian' winners saw off Ireland in 2014 in front of a sold out crowd in Patersons Stadium, Perth.
2015 saw Ireland reclaim the Cormac McAnallen Cup with a narrow four point victory over a side managed by Alasdair Clarkson on a scorline of 56-52.
The next test between the countries will take place in 2016.
Rules of the Game
View the full Laws of International Rules Football below
Changes made before the 2015 test included:
- Goalkeepers must now kick the ball out beyond the 45m line after all wides, behinds and overs, which will help bring the taller players (and contested marks) into play. Failure of a goalkeeper to kick over the 45m line will result in a free kick to the opposition (from the 45m line).
- The number of consecutive handpasses allowed has been raised from 4 to 6
- Interchanges have been increased to 15 per quarter (60 for match) with an unlimited number allowed at the quarter, half and three quarter time intervals.
- Marks have been eliminated for kicks backwards – play on will be called in such circumstances