Down minor star Mooney signs rookie deal with Collingwood
Down minor footballer Caolan Mooney has signed a two-year international rookie contract with AFL club Collingwood.
Mooney impressed the Melbourne club's coaching staff during a month-long trial during the summer, but will not make a start to his new career in Australia until October 2011.
At just 17, Mooney will complete his secondary schooling next year and continue to play for the Mourne minors.
Collingwood agreed a similar deal with Kildare's Paul Cribbin last year and Cribbin will be heading Down Under shortly.
The Magpies, who are currently top of the AFL table and are coached by Australia's 2008 International Rules boss Mick Malthouse, have had mixed experiences with Irish recruits in the past.
Mooney's fellow Downman Martin Clarke made a brilliant impression in Australia early on, before injuries and a loss of form prompted him to return, to spectacular effect, for his native county.
Kevin Dyas never played a senior game and also cut short his time prematurely, having suffered numerous hamstring injuries, before playing for Armagh this year.
Mooney won the MacRory Cup and the Hogan Cup with St Colman's, Newry, this year and is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in Ulster football. He has been given a special training programme by Collingwood to help prepare him for Aussie Rules.
Meanwhile, former Laois minor star Conor Meredith is finally showing improvement and earned the praise of North Melbourne development coach Jason Lappin when showing his versatility for the Werribee Tigers reserves.
"Conor started really well on the wing with five possessions and a terrific snap goal in the first quarter," said Lappin.
"He then went on to the opposition's key playmaker, who had 12 possessions in the first quarter, and completely shut him out of the game. His defensive job was certainly a key to Werribee getting the win."
Meredith finished with 13 possessions and two goals.