Kookaburras crush Ireland, Pro League hosts India await

Murray WenzelAAP
Jeremy Hayward was on target for the Kookaburras as they demolished Ireland 5-0 in India. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconJeremy Hayward was on target for the Kookaburras as they demolished Ireland 5-0 in India. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

The Kookaburras have tuned up for a Pro League date with in-form hosts India by dismantling plucky Ireland 5-0 to make it two straight wins to begin the Olympic year.

Coach Colin Batch benched more than 1000 caps of experience for the clash with the Pro League newcomers, all-time games record-holder Eddie Ockenden and game one goal-scorers Lachlan Sharp, Blake Govers and Jake Whetton all on the sidelines in Bhubaneswar.

The depth test was a success though, Tom Craig scoring once and setting up another while Jeremy Hayward’s drag flick rocketed into the top corner as Australia raced to a 3-0 lead inside 25 minutes.

Nathan Ephraums scored a brilliant solo goal before Ky Wilmott slotted his second of the match in the final quarter, Australia able to slowly pick apart Ireland’s deeply set defence.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


Cairns-born 22-year-old Jayden Atkinson made the most of his midfield minutes to control the contest, while goalkeeper Andrew Charter was rarely called into action in a win that followed the Kookaburras’ series-opening 4-3 triumph over Spain.

“When you have a big squad on tour it’s a balancing act making sure everyone has minutes,” Craig said.

The Game AFL 2024

“We know in Olympic year, any year, it takes the full squad members to have a good result.

“With that many caps on the sideline, it’s a good testament to who we have stepping up.”

Australia will face India on Thursday, the red-hot hosts beating the table-topping Netherlands in a shoot-out - the Dutch powerhouse’s only loss from seven games - and trouncing Spain 4-1 on Sunday.

“There’s nothing quite like playing India in India, it’s one of life’s great treats ... we hope the crowd comes out in force because there’s nothing quite like it,” Craig said.

The Hockeyroos’ (2-2) face China (4-1) later on Wednesday night (AEDT) in Rourkela, before backing up against the USA (0-5) a day later.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails