Brisbane Lions turn recruiting eye on Ireland, South Africa and PNG

Friday, April 22 2005 @ 04:41 pm ACST

Contributed by: Peter Parry

The Melbourne Age reports (note this may require an account at some point) the Brisbane Lions as having taken on Gerard Sholly, former Collingwood recruiting manager to assist with taking on a rookie from Gaelic football in Ireland.

The "Irish experiment" is working well these days with the success of Tadhg Kennelly at the Sydney Swans and Setanta O'hAilpin with Carlton. Sholly is considered somewhat of an authority in the potential of young Gaelic footballers to make the transition to the AFL.

As a catalyst to this, Lions recruiting manager, Kinnear Beatson, travelled with the Australian under 17 side on the recent tour of Ireland (see WFN story Ireland take U-17 IR series 2-1).

The article also mentions interest the Lions are showing in South Africa, talking with former Melbourne star and AFL South Africa chairperson Brian Dixon, and previous stories have highlighted the Brisbane club and AFL Queensland's growing involvement with AFLPNG.

The Age story shows a growing awareness of the international dimensions of footy in the mainstream Australian press. It also shows the growing interest of some AFL clubs, particularly when the most successful club of recent years is turning its attention to PNG, Ireland and South Africa.

Ireland has thousands of young Gaelic footballers, PNG has thousands of junior Aussie Rules players and South Africa is on track to have thousands of junior players too. Youth development is obviously important if a country wants to fast track the code and AFL club interest.

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