Sunday 18 March 2018

Setanta may make Rebels return after Carlton cut him loose

Daragh Conchir

Setanta Ó hAilpín's future in the AFL is shrouded in doubt after his eight-year career with Carlton was ended by the club yesterday.

Just days after his older brother Seán Óg's recall to the Cork hurling panel, the former Young Hurler of the Year could also be in line for a sensational comeback.

Ó hAilpín has expressed a desire to play for the Rebels again, but will try to attract a new AFL club through the draft at the end of the month.

The 28-year-old is a victim of AFL rules that dictate a club must make three changes to its list. It came down to a decision between Ó hAilpín and Paul Bower, the two out-of-contract players on the panel -- attempts to find either of them a new club failed during trade week and with Bower five years younger, the axe fell on the Corkman.

"This was a very tough decision," said Carlton chief executive Greg Swann. "Setanta has been an important part of our club for (eight) years.

"We certainly wish Setanta the very best and I know his enthusiasm will be missed."

Ó hAilpín made his senior debut in 2005 and played 80 games in defence, ruck and attack. He booted 67 goals, but injuries prevented him making more of a mark.


His fortunes contrast sharply with those of Tommy Walsh, who says that he is delighted to have secured a move to Sydney Swans and is aiming to follow in the footsteps of former All-Ireland winning team-mate, Tadhg Kennelly.

"I'm rapt and I can't wait to get there and start," he said. "I knew it was too good an opportunity to miss. I just want to play footy and that's what I came here for."

Walsh spent last weekend in Sydney with Kennelly and his one-time summer camp coach's enthusiasm for the Swans helped seal the deal.

"I've played at both ends and that means I can be more versatile," said Walsh of his immediate future. "I don't mind where I play as long as I get a game ... but I don't mind kicking goals."

Meanwhile, St Kilda revealed that a delegation, including new coach Scott Watters and captain Nick Riewoldt, made a last-ditch attempt to convince Walsh he was in the Saints' plans.

But the refusal of Watters' predecessor Ross Lyon to select the Tralee native, despite his promising form for VFL affiliate Sandringham, meant that his mind was made up.

"Personally I rate him very highly ... half-way through the year the club offered him a three-year contract; they revised that contract a week ago and I spoke pretty strongly with him about his opportunities," Watters said. "But his mind was made up . . . he received some promises from Sydney, so there was damage that could not be repaired in a short space of time."

Irish Independent

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