GAA Football

Ultan Kelm aiming to grab Oz football chance with both hands

26/5/2019 Fermanaghs Ultan Kelm Picture Seamus Loughran.
Gerry McLaughlin

FERMANAGH'S loss could be Australia's gain, as the Erne County's very own ‘blond bomber” is bound for Oz.

For, 20-year-old Erne Gaels and Fermanagh star Ultan Kelm is one of four young Irish players who have been selected for Aussie Rules trials Down Under for a fortnight.

On April 14 he will be joining Mayo's Oisin Mullen and Frank Irwin along with Cillian Rouine from Clare until April 27.

Kelm took part in an AFL Combine trial held in UCD in Decemberand was one of four young players picked out of 20 to go to Oz.

And, he is absolutely delighted to be offered the dream of a lifetime which he hopes will come through and has the full backing of his well-known GAA family of Kelm and Flynn.

“I first heard about it last August when I got a phone call from one of the Aussie scouts to come down to Dublin for a few skill sessions,'' he said.

“Following on from that, I was asked to go the Combine in December.

“I was lucky enough to be one of four picked, we did all the tests in a three-day event.

“It was from Thursday to Saturday and we had indoor tests of speed and endurance.

“We then did a skill session outside with a match and that was the tough part of it.

“We played with the Aussie Rules ball and with the GAA ball as well.

“It was good to be picked. The skills in Aussie Rules are completely different but Gaelic is getting a bit more like Aussie Rules these days.”

Kelm's whirlwind impact on the Fermanagh team, which he only joined last year, has helped to put him in the Aussie shop window.

“Aussie Rules is professional so getting into an inter-county set-up here is as close as you can get to professional sport.'' said Kelm.

“It gave me a taste for playing sport at a high level, but I am always seeking to improve.

“So, training with the best players in Fermanagh is definitely a good help.

“This is something I really want to do and it would not have happened but for playing county football and since it has come under my radar I am really keen to go out there and make a go of it.

“I really want to do it and of course it is not ideal leaving home but knowing that I have all their full backing makes it a bit easier although I would miss home and playing with all my friends in Erne Gaels and Fermanagh.

“I think it is an opportunity you can't turn down and you have to go for it.”

For now, he is looking forward to next month's trip to Australia where a few clubs have asked if Kelm and the other three hopefuls to go for a day to train.

“We will be watching a few games as their season is just starting now and then we will train with their best U-17s.

“We will be going to Melbourne where there are eight teams and that is over 50 per cent of the teams.”

So, when will he know?

“It depends, a club could offer you a contract, if they like you, they might make an offer.

“It is hard to say when I will know as every club has a different way of scouting players.

“It could four months down the line or any time..”

The NFL at home will be over when Ultan goes Down Under and he will then a few weeks to prepare for the opening Ulster Championship clash with Down in Brewster Park.

At present he is injury free as a niggling groin injury has healed and he is really looking forward to giving this chance his very best shot.

“I went to Santry in Dublin, for rehab and I think I am back to full health and I am feeling stronger than ever.”

Kelm only turned 20 in December, but has already made a huge impact on the Erne County with his physique, explosive pace and great ball handling skills.

He is mature well beyond his years, has all the social skills, and has settled into the Fermanagh senior set up like a veteran.

But it is his ability to take on defences from deep with his savage pace that has given Fermanagh some badly needed penetration and few will forget a point he scored in the Erne County's defeat of Donegal when he ran 60 metres with the ball before hitting a cracking point.

It is obvious that these attributes obviously impressed the Aussie scouts.

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