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Early boost for Jack O’Connor as ex-underage star Stefan Okunbor returns to Kerry from AFL

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Stefan Okunbor in action for Kerry U-20. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Stefan Okunbor in action for Kerry U-20. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Stefan Okunbor in action for Kerry U-20. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Soon-to-be-anointed Kerry manager Jack O’Connor is set to be handed an early boost with the news that Stefan Okunbor has returned home after a three-year stint in the AFL.

Okunbor was a highly-rated prospect in Kerry when he signed on with the Geelong club in late 2018. An All-Ireland minor winner in 2016, he was named as the Munster U20 Player of the Year two years later when the Kingdom U20s were under the guidance of O’Connor.

A versatile player, Okunbor has lined out at midfield for his Tralee-based club Na Gaeil but was used at full back by O’Connor in that campaign and was generally seen as a defender in Australia.

An serious achillies injury and lockdown, which saw severe disruption to the VFL, the league where Irish recruits generally hone their skills, meant Okunbor found opportunities limited in Australia.

However, he did manage 17 VFL appearances in his three seasons with Geelong, where Zach Tuohy and fellow Kerry man Mark O’Connor are also signed on.

"Stefan showed great desire and commitment to become a better player,” Geelong’s general manager of football Simon Lloyd said.

“He was limited by injury and the lack of games through the shutdown. He is now back in Ireland and we hope he can enjoy a successful Gaelic football career."

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