Setanta's form suggests the next step will be taken
Saturday, September 17 2005 @ 02:00 am ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
As reported recently in O'hAilpin brothers to get senior list promotions in 2006?, Irish recruit Setanta O'hAilpin has continued his good form with Carlton's VFL feeder club the Northern Bullants. In our last update on his VFL matches "Carlos" had been called up to play a one-off match with the Blues in the AFL. Here we review his match-by-match form since returning to the Bullants and keep track of how younger brother Aisake has been doing.
Having been called up due to another player having a long term injury, Setanta kicked a goal with his first AFL kick, but after limited game time found himself back in the VFL for round 9 to continue his development. The Bullants took on Tasmania in Devonport, winning by 18 points and Setanta booted 2 goals and was named his side's 6th best player. In round 10 Setanta booted 3 more goals and was named 6th best. In their next match against Port Melbourne he didn't feature highly, though Aisake was 4th best in the VFL reserves for the Bullants, for the second week in a row, mostly playing key defensive roles.
In round 12 Setanta kicked a goal but was again out of the best players, but the Northern Bullants were gathering a head of steam and heading for the top end of the ladder. Although not dominating, Aisake had finished in his team's top five best in 5 of the previous 6 weeks. And in the following round was named second best, while the seniors had a bye.
Round 14 was unremarkable for both of the Cork lads, but in the next match Setanta booted 3 goals, before another quiet game. In round 17 the Northern Bullants had a big win over Geelong (VFL not AFL) and "Carlos" was named 2nd best. A bye followed then a 3 point loss to Werribee in which Setanta booted 3 goals and was named best player for the losing side. In the final minor round match the Bullants secured 2nd spot and although Setanta didn't make his side's top players, he did assist in a vital turnover that kept the game safe for the Bullants.
The VFL finals followed, although the Northern Bullants' reserves did not make it, so Aisake has been out of action. In the seniors Qualifying Final the Bullants were blown away by Sandringham, with Setanta not featuring highly. The following week he booted 2 goals in the Bullants' big win over Tasmania, and 2 again as his side went down to Werribee, thus ending the season just short of a grand final spot.
There's no doubt the big Irishman has had an impressive second season in Australia. The VFL is a high quality league with plenty of AFL players passing through it. Although often in the Bullants' best, he doesn't appear to be demanding an AFL contract in 2006 (by consistently being in say the top two), but given he is still a developing player it seems likely he'll achieve his dream listing in the main squad. From there it will be a full pre-season and he'll try to force his way into the team for round 1. One drawback is that Carlton have several other tall young players of similar build slightly ahead of him in the queue. As for Aisake, he appears to be roughly on track to where his older brother was in his first season, and one imagines he'll do a second full international rookie season, hopefully making the Bullants' senior side and regularly featuring amongst the best players. 2006 should see two Irishmen (Tadhg Kennelly and Setanta) playing regular AFL footy, and hopefully Aisake with join them in 2007. As previously reported, don't be surprised if by then 2 or 3 more Irishmen are on AFL lists and plying their wares in the respective feeder leagues to the AFL around Australia. Perhaps 1 or 2 Papua New Guinea and New Zealand players will be on rookie or apprentice lists by then too.