Friday 26 April 2019

Wexford pair lead five-strong party for AFL trials

Two young Wexford footballers are among a quintet who are heading to Australia next month to take part in AFL trials. (stock photo)
Two young Wexford footballers are among a quintet who are heading to Australia next month to take part in AFL trials. (stock photo)
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Two young Wexford footballers are among a quintet who are heading to Australia next month to take part in AFL trials.

Ronan Devereux will join Sligo's Luke Towey, Donegal's Peadar Mogan and Armagh's Ross McQuillan who will be taking part in a two-week AFL international combine.

Barry O'Connor, son of former Wexford hurling great George, will trial exclusively with Sydney Swans.

Devereux, Mogan, Towey and McQuillan have been chosen from a group of about 20 hopefuls who are being monitored by AFL Europe and took part in an Irish combine in UCD last December.

McQuillan is the son of former Armagh footballer and selector Martin and featured for the county in last year's championship.

Mogan is a former Donegal minor captain and has seen league action already this spring. Towey has also played for Sligo this season.

Read more: Colm Keys: 'Laois hoping promotion cards will fall their way'

Devereux has not played for Wexford since last year but O'Connor has been a regular on his county team during this year's Allianz Football League Division 4 campaign.

Taking part in a combine of this nature is a significant step on the way to being picked up by an AFL club.

Last year Dublin's James Madden, Derry's Anton Tohill and Cork's Mark Keane were in Florida for a combine and have been since signed by clubs - Keane and Tohill by Collingwood and Madden by Brisbane Lions.

There are currently 14 Irish on the books of AFL clubs, the highest number yet at any one time.

In addition to Keane, Tohill and Madden, Sligo's Red Óg Murphy, Kerry's Stefan Okunbor and Derry's Callum Brown were signed in 2018.

But four players also returned home during the year, Mayo's Cian Hanley, Louth's Ciaran Byrne, Galway's Cillian McDaid and Westmeath's Ray Connellan - though Connellan has since returned.

Five Irish players will feature for their sides in the opening round of the 2019 AFL season this weekend, although Zach Tuohy's remarkable active record of 138 consecutive games will end due to a knee injury.

Tuohy's team-mate Mark O'Connor starts in the full-back line for Geelong against Collingwood today, while Conor Nash has been named at centre half-forward for Hawthorn's opener against Adelaide Crows tomorrow.

On Sunday, Pearce Hanley's Gold Coast Suns take on Darragh Joyce's St Kilda, with Conor McKenna also featuring for Essendon against GWS Giants.

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