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Back in the day - Aussie football agents target GAA youngsters - The Irish News, Sep 19 1999

Tadgh Kennelly (Ireland) in action against Matthew Boyd Australia in the International Rules Series at the Grounds Limerick on October 23 2010. Picture by Alan Place / SPORTSFILE
The Irish News Archive

MICHAEL Francis Russell, Ireland's young player of the year in 1997 and Kerry's teenage starlet Tadgh Kennelly, are among targets for an AFL talent trawl for the new Aussie Rules Football season.

Paidi O Se's stylish stars were named last week in an Australian newspaper report, carried on September 17 by the Herald Sun into a potential Irish recruitment drive by at least four AFL clubs.

Carlton Blues, who play championship favourites Kangaroos' in the AFL Grand final, the equivalent of Sunday's AllIreland SFC final, are one of the clubs scouting for GAA signings. Daryl Timms, writing in the Herald Sun, states that “at least four AFL clubs are seriously considering recruiting an Irish rookie for the 2000 season. “Athletes from New Zealand and South Africa have also been considered, but Ireland's gaelic footballers remain the most realistic short-term prospects”.

It is felt the Australian interest in attracting a fresh influx of young GAA players to play Aussie Rules football stems from the recent U17 International Rules promotions in Ireland and Australia.

A shop window for talent, the junior events were developmental projects both for the GAA and their Australian counterparts, the AFL.

Carlton, Collingwood, Port Adelaide, where one of the International Rules tests takes place on October 15, and West Coast AFL clubs have expressed interest in recruiting overseas talent from Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa. Russell and Kennelly are among a broad range of top prospects being looked at, and according to the report, both Kerry footballers have been approached by a player agent.

Peter Jess has had “talks with both players” and the Herald Sun report states that “he would not be surprised if at least one of them was recruited.

“Keannelly is 18 and would have first preference,” says Jess, who adds that both Kerry players “are very keen to be given a chance”.

AIDAN Thornbury blamed attitudes towards a member of Antrim's senior football management for his resignation as team manager yesterday.

Thornbury said his decision to quit followed two months of deliberations with county officials about next season's plans and a push for one of his management team to be axed.

“The situation is that due to irreconcilable differences between myself and the County Board, I formally resigned as County Senior Football manager,” Thornbury said.

“My recent re-appointment for a second term received unanimous backing of the County Executive.

“However, it was conditional upon the dismissal of one of the current management team, a person who has given nearly 20 years of service with county teams at all levels.”

Thornbury said he felt he had been put in an impossible position.

JOE Swail's run to the semifinals of the British Open in Plymouth has saw him move 10 places up the provisonal world rankings to number 18. Fergal O'Brien, one of Swail's victims in Plymouth is the highest ranked Irish player at number seven, three places ahead of Ken Doherty. Other Irish placings are: Terry Murphy (31), Gerard Greene (41), Michael Judge (56), Patrick Wallace (58), Dennis Taylor (83), Stephen O'Connor (97) and Jason Prince (99). Meanwhile, Prince's miserable run continued in the second qualifying round of the Regal Welsh Open yesterday when he lost 5-3 to Ryan Day. Stephen O'Connor was also a loser, going down 5-2 to Joe Perry, who reached the last 16 of the World Championships last season. Gerard Greene lost 5-1 last night to Mike Dunn while Patrick Wallace was 3-1 down to Jonathon Birch last night.

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