Louth have been handed a huge boost with the news that star forward Ciarán Byrne has rejected the chance to return to the AFL.
Byrne had a successful stint with Carlton from 2013 to 2018, which saw him make 22 senior appearances despite an injury-ravaged spell.
Byrne remained highly rated by the Melbourne outfit and in recent weeks they had offered him the chance to revive his career in Australia. However, he confirmed to independent.ie this morning that he would remain home.
The 27-year-old has been a key part of Louth’s rapid rise in recent seasons that has seen them earn successive promotions and see them compete in division two.
Speaking to Independent.ie last month, Byrne hinted that he was leaning towards staying at home.
“It’s a big year for Louth, we’ve been building nicely under Mickey and Gavin (Devlin), so there’s a lot going on there too,” he said at the time.
After a brilliant year for the Irish in the AFL that saw Zach Tuohy and Mark O’Connor join Tadhg Kennelly as Premiership winners, there’s set to be fewer Irish players on the books of AFL clubs in 2023.
Of the 11 Irish contracted last season, Darragh Joyce and Barry O’Connor are currently without a club after their deals with St Kilda and Sydney Swans, respectively, came to an end.
Colin O’Riordan was forced into retirement, while Deividas Uosis has also left the Brisbane Lions.
As things stand, Tuohy, O’Connor (both Geelong), Conor Nash, Fionn O’Hara (both Hawthorn), Cian McBride (Essendon), Callum Brown (GWS Giants) and James Madden (Brisbane Lions) are tied to clubs.
However, there has been speculation that Tyrone’s Conor McKenna could revive his AFL career after reported interest from a number of clubs.