Kildare starlets head AFL challenge
ELEVEN of the GAA's brightest young talents will come under the watchful eye of some of the AFL's top clubs when a European selection takes on an Australian Academy team in London on Saturday.
The European Legion side include three from the Johnstownbridge club in Kildare in brothers Daniel and Luke Flynn and Sean Hurley.
It continues a link between the club's young talent and Down Under as the Kildare side have already seen Paul Cribbin try his hand in the AFL with Collingwood before returning.
Daniel Flynn also came home from a brief stint with Port Adelaide last month, but the club have left the door open for a return, while his brother Luke was part of the Kildare minor side that won a Leinster title last year.
Hurley has long been tracked by AFL scouts, with Fremantle in Western Australia tipped to bring him Down Under at the end of the year.
Paddy Brophy is also included, meaning three of Jason Ryan's Lilies squad are in London this week.
The Europeans, aged 17-25, are under the care of Tadhg Kennelly and gathered in London for a week-long training camp before they take on the cream of the AFL's 18-year-olds in Harrow School on Saturday.
It will be the fourth renewal of the fixture as the AFL continue their trawl of the globe for talent – they have called on players from six countries.
The original selection released in January included eight Irish players before the addition this week of Daniel Flynn, Hurley and talented Mayo youngster Shehroz Akram, who had previously been on standby.
Kerry starlet Padraig Lucey returns this year having played in this fixture 12 months ago, while Armagh's Ciaron O'Hanlon made his senior championship debut last year.
Tipperary's Colin O'Riordan is an All-Ireland minor winner at both codes; the majority of the Australian side are expected to be drafted into an AFL club next year.
"Spending the time together to train alongside the best young players from Australia is a new and exciting opportunity," Kennelly said. "It's going to accelerate their skills.
"The players will go back to their countries with a better idea of life as a professional athlete and they can share what they've learnt with their team-mates. Long-term, it all helps to grow the game in Europe."
Irish representation – Kildare: Daniel Flynn, Luke Flynn, Sean Hurley (all Johnstownbridge), Paddy Brophy (Celbridge); Mayo: Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore), Shehroz Akram (Ballaghaderreen); Armagh: Ciaron O'Hanlon (Killeavy); Kerry: Padraig Lucey (Legion); Tipperary: Colin O'Riordan (JK Brackens); Galway: Peter Cooke (Moycullen) Tyrone: Conor McKenna (Eglish)