DUBLIN dual starlet Ciarán Kilkenny has said he could not turn his down the opportunity of a lifetime as he gets ready to embark on a professional Aussie Rules career.
Late last week the 19-year-old signed as an international rookie for Hawthorn, choosing the Grand Finalists over rivals Carlton FC, who were also chasing his signature.
"This is not a decision I reached lightly but the opportunity to experience a different culture, test myself in a new code and live the life of a professional athlete is one I could not pass up," Kilkenny said.
"Obviously there are no guarantees in sport of any nature and I appreciate the challenge that lies ahead. I realise that I have been very fortunate in that I have been assisted by many people along the way and would like to thank and recognise them as I embark upon this new football journey."
Hawthorn has said Kilkenny took their eye when he tested impressively at the AFL combine in February. They recently invited the teenager and his dad, John, to Melbourne to for a tour of the club and its surrounds.
Hawthorn's Recruiting and List Manager Graham Wright said the club was delighted with their new acquisition. "We're very excited that Ciarán has agreed to join Hawthorn Football Club," Wright said.
"He's come off an outstanding Gaelic football season in Ireland, which culminated with him earning a starting spot for Dublin in the All-Ireland senior semi-final a few weeks ago."
Wright admitted it wasn't just Kilkenny's athletic ability that attracted them to him but also his knowledge of the oval ball game.
"Ciarán and his father John recently visited the club's training base at Waverley Park and attended one of our matches. During this time we were very impressed with his knowledge of our game, attitude and his adaption to the oval ball."
The Dublin star is expected to join the club for pre-season training in November. This Sunday Kilkenny is expected to line out for his club, Castleknock, in the Dublin JFC 'A' final against Raheny in Parnell Park (4.0).