Friday 17 January 2020

GAA deny link to Kennelly's AFL project

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The GAA have no formal knowledge of the role that Tadhg Kennelly will fulfil in the development of young international players for the AFL.

Kennelly, home in Listowel for a commemorative ceremony over the weekend that saw a roundabout named after his father Tim, said that his new role was "all agreed" with the GAA.

But GAA sources have said that is not the case, though the matter of international development was on the agenda at meetings between the associations three years ago.

The AFL wouldn't be obliged to inform the GAA of the development or any work Kennelly would conduct in Ireland but given the relations between the pair it would be expected. Kennelly's role will involve developing international talent for AFL teams.

Ireland will be an obvious point of contact for him, with plans to set up an academy, and his presence should help regularise the movement of GAA players to Australia.

The Carlton club hosted an academy in Limerick in October at which Dublin minor dual star Ciaran Kilkenny earned the offer of a contract next summer. Kennelly has stressed that his work will have benefits because things will become "legit".

The perception that the GAA is a breeding ground for the AFL is statistically wide of the mark. For the 2012 season there will be just eight Irish players on AFL books.

Down still have two players on AFL club payrolls, with Martin Clarke back in Collingwood, where Caolan Mooney has signed a rookie contract, but Jamie O'Reilly has returned to the Mourne County after two years with Richmond.

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Antrim's Niall McKeever has been a real success with Brisbane Lions this year, playing their final 10 games.

Another Lions recruit, Mayo's Pearse Hanley was the best Irish AFL player this season, playing all 22 games.

Setanta O hAilpin, the longest-serving Irish AFL player, has moved from Carlton to Great Western Sydney.

Big things are expected from Laois recruit Zac Tuohy, who forged his way into the Carlton team in mid-season.

Tommy Walsh has moved to Sydney Swans, the club that Crissy McKaigue was delisted from, prompting his return to Derry. Kildare's Paul Cribbin is still attached to Collingwood, having completed the first of his two-year rookie deal -- he was confined to games with the reserves.

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