Monday 23 April 2018

Ryan and Quinn on brink of Essendon deals after trial

Colm Keys

Essendon will decide next month if they are to sign young GAA stars Ian Ryan and Michael Quinn.

Ryan, a sensation for Limerick in their qualifier win over Meath in July, and Quinn, a Longford minor, have just completed a two-week trial at the Melbourne club.

Their level of fitness has been praised but confirmation of whether they will be offered international rookie contracts won't be made until September.

"Both boys are in really good shape, physically," Essendon coach Matthew Knights said.

"It seems like the game of Gaelic football lends itself to players being physically fit and adept at Australian Rules. They'll go home in the near future and then we'll sit down as a club and assess the whole situation, the whole two weeks and how those boys went.

"We haven't even thought whether we would or wouldn't sign. We have to go through an assessment stage yet. That's probably a month or two down the track.

"The Essendon football club has been looking into getting Irish players, probably for three or four years now. This is the first time we've taken the step of getting two young men out here to spend some time in our program so it's not something we've just looked at in the last six months."

Essendon have declined an invitation to sign up with Ricky Nixon's recruitment agency which is providing a bridgehead between Ireland and a host of AFL clubs.

Quinn and Ryan are just the latest in a long list of Irish players being looked at by Australian clubs. Tyrone's Kyle Coney has already signed a rookie contract with Sydney Swans while Conor Meredith looks likely to pursue a career in AFL.

Carl Dias (Dublin) and Brian Donnelly (Louth) have already completed trials with Adelaide while Carlton are preparing trials for Ciaran Sheehan (Cork) and Zach Tuohy (Laois).

Pearce Hanley prepares for his AFL senior debut this weekend. The former Mayo player trained with the Lions' senior side this week ahead of tomorrow's clash with Carlton Blues and coach Leigh Matthews has confirmed that the Ballaghadereen 19-year-old is in the frame for selection.

Viewed as a gamble in Brisbane, Hanley believes he is close to making his mark.

"I would like to think I'm close to getting a game, but we will just have to wait and see," he said. "I have picked up on the basics of the game pretty quick but I am on a learning curve and I have still been making a mistake or two playing in the reserves. I have been mainly playing in the defence but I was actually tried out on the wing last weekend and I really enjoyed it."

Brisbane Lions have lodged papers with the AFL to get the rookie-contracted player elevated to the senior list and it is expected that the request will be granted.

Laois will breathe a sigh of relief that Donie Kingston has declined an invitation to Nixon's camp in Mayo next week.

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