Thursday 18 January 2018

GAA plan to curb talent flow Down Under

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

RESTRICTING recruitment to players over the age of 19 years and introducing an annual quota are the two main planks of the GAA's proposal to the AFL designed to control the number of young Gaelic footballers joining Australian Rules clubs.

The flow of top minor stars to Australia has increased in recent times leading to concerns that the GAA will become a feeder organisation for professional AFL clubs.

There has also been dismay over the running of recruitment camps by AFL clubs in Ireland.

However, AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said yesterday that it shouldn't be taken for granted that because Australian scouts and agents are trawling the GAA for young talent they had the support of the governing body.

"The GAA have raised their concerns with us and we take them very seriously," he said.

He also stated that the Australians have raised the draft age for their own players to 18 years.

GAA and AFL officials discussed the recruitment drive in Ireland at their meeting yesterday.

GAA president Nickey Brennan explained that they had asked the AFL to raise to 19 years the age at which a Gaelic footballer could be signed.

The GAA have also proposed that the AFL impose a limit on the number of Irish players who could be signed in any year and also sought a guarantee that the international scholarship scheme for players as young as 15 years would not apply to Ireland.

"Recruitment by AFL clubs is a matter of concern in the GAA.

"We have no right to stop any of our players signing for AFL clubs, but at the same time we want to ensure that there isn't a drain on our talent," said Brennan.

Demetriou said that he understood the GAA's position and would discuss their proposals with other senior AFL officials before giving a response early next year.

He emphasised that a good relationship with the GAA was important to the AFL and that they were very aware of the concerns expressed over the recruitment of young Irish players.

It was announced that there would be no more Ireland v Australia junior tours which were regarded as a fruitful recruiting ground for AFL clubs who spotted promising young Gaelic footballers.

An Ulster venue -- probably Casement Park or Omagh - will host next year's first Ireland v Australia senior test on October 24 with the second test in Croke Park on Sunday, November 1.

There will be no series in 2010. It will resume in 2011 with Ireland touring Australia. The Aussies will return to Ireland in 2012, followed by another blank year.

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