'There were some guys in the Jim Stynes mould' - AFL impressed by Irish talent at European combine
Australian Football League (AFL) scouts were impressed by several prospects at their European combine in Dublin on Saturday with Dublin hurler James Madden smashing the league's all-time record for the 20m sprint with a time of 2.69 seconds.
23 players gathered at UCD to undergo a series of tests and simulation games under the watchful eyes of former Collingwood defender Marty Clarke (AFL Europe specialist coach), former Brisbane Lions defender Colm Begley (Geelong scout) and former Geelong midfielder Kevin Sheehan (AFL international talent manager).
Three players from this weekend's trials will be invited to attend the AFL Academy camp at the IMG Academy in Florida next month with a number of players impressing on Saturday, most notably; Madden, Mark Keane (Cork), Peadar Bryne (Dublin), Anton Tohill (Derry) and Jack Canning (Galway).
"Every year the standard seems to be getting higher and higher," Clarke told AFL.com.au.
"The testing was first class and some of the ball use in that match situation was very good.
"There were some really good taller lads who were very mobile, and in some ways in the Jimmy Stynes mould.
"There has been a shift in (recruiting focus) by getting big and mobile guys."
Tohill, a 6'5, 17-year-old midfielder, has been leaning on his father Anthony's experiences after the former Derry midfielder was selected by the Melbourne Demons in the 1989 AFL Draft.
"Dad has been fabulous, he understands it's a big opportunity for me," Tohill told AFL.com.au.
"He went through all this with Melbourne back in the day, so he's been giving me advice on how to be a professional on and off the pitch.
"He says be aggressive, and when you get knocked down, just get up straight back up.
"'Never give up' is his message to me."
Last season former Tyrone minor Conor McKenna became a first-team regular at Essendon after he was first spotted at a talent combine in Dublin in December, 2013, while Kerry's Mark O'Connor broke through to the Geelong first-team after attending the 2016 European combine.