Captain Michael Murphy offered no excuses for Ireland’s defeat to Australia, admitting that the better team won.

Holders of the Cormac McAnallen Cup since 2011, the visitors were outplayed and outscored by a much improved Australian team, who held on for a 56-46 win in Perth.

Speaking after the game, Murphy said: “Those first two quarters were too tough for us to overcome. Once we started to get to grips with it and we started to play them at their own game a little bit we started to come back into the game.

“We just came up short in the end. Overall, I think Australia deserved to win.

“Australia were very dominant, they turned that dominance into scores and lots of quality overs. They put a bit of pressure on us high up the pitch and in the midfield sector. They’re accomplished with the round ball.”

Trailing 35-7 at half-time, Paul Earley’s side rallied in the second half but couldn’t reel in the Aussies. However, Donegal’s All-Star forward paid tribute to his men.

“In fairness to everyone they showed great character,” he added. “That was an important thing to do. We could have snatched it in the end but it wasn’t to be. We move on to next year.”

Man of the match, receiving the Jim Stynes medal, Luke Hodge admitted that Australia were making amends for their previous poor form in the series.

The Hawthorn player said: “The boys have got a bit of pride and I think over the last few series the Irish have been let down by how we played and how serious we’ve taken it so you can tell with the calibre of guys we’ve got in the squad – we were serious about resurrecting the series, pretty much.

“It’s a great game, it’s entertaining to play.

“Playing for your country [is] high on everyone’s priority list but I think it’s been let down a little bit by our performances in the last couple of years and that’s the attitude the boys took.”