The international rules uses two referees, one in either half, in a compromise that could harshly be judged as merely doubling the number of people to get things wrong. Joe Kernan was mightily unimpressed with the performances of both officials - Maurice Deegan and Matt Stevic. In a post-match press conference with the Australian media (available to watch on the AFL website), Kernan was swift to praise Australia and accentuate his own side's failings but did reserve criticism for the referees, citing the failure to protect Michael Murphy and to punish Nat Fyfe's forearm smash on Aidan O'Shea.
Michael Murphy was tortured the whole game long. He got no protection whatsoever.Last week there were three easy frees given against our full-back line in the first quarter for fouling. I don't know the difference between these fouls and someone being tackled off the ball the whole day. So I'd like to ask something about that. The forearm charge by Fyfe on Aidan O'Shea by the dugout, nothing happened there.
It was a dangerous tackle. In our country, it's a sending off. Those things didn't cost us the match, we had it in the palm of our hand going into the final quarter. So we are disappointed in ourselves, not taking anything away from the Australian players and management. They deserved to win on the night, but we have to look at ourselves and say that we lost our composure near the end when it was there for the taking.
The issue of just how serious that "forearm smash" on O'Shea seems to be up for debate in Australia, with the official AFL website titling a video of the incident with "Irish acting better suited to soccer".
Kernan added that Chris Barrett is feeling no ill-effects from a late challenge by Joel Selwood. Barrett was substituted as a result of the clash, with Kernan confirming that he is feeling "100%" and is "made of tougher stuff". It had been rumoured that Selwood might face a suspension from the AFL, but it was confirmed after the game that he will face no further action.
Kernan ended his briefing by confirming his desire that the series continues next year, with the prospect of a Test based in the United States "unbelievable".