Contributed by: Brett Northey
AFL club Carlton has moved Setanta O'hAilpin to their senior list for the 2006 season. After two years on the Blues' international rookie list, the former hurling star recruited from Ireland has been given his big chance. He joins Sydney's Tadhg Kennelly as the two Irishmen on AFL senior lists. All three of the O'hAilpin brothers are currently doing pre-season training with Carlton.
Setanta completed a successful season with the Blues' feeder club, the Northern Bullants, and his younger brother Aisake had a solid first year playing with the Bullants' reserves. Setanta was briefly on the senior list when another player was moved to the long-term injured list, and his one game yielded a goal with his first kick. Setanta and Aisake's elder brother, Sean Og, has long been rumoured to be of interest to Carlton, so the fact that he is now doing pre-season training might rekindle that story, however there is no indication that he would be offered a deal at this later stage of his career. The elevation of Setanta follows the recent international rookie listing of two Irish players by Brisbane. All these moves are still a step removed from an AFL club actually drafting a footy player "home grown" in their country's Australian football league, but it is part of the pleasing trend of Australia's professional clubs looking overseas for talent, and being willing to use their international rookie lists. With rapid growth in PNG and South Africa and good numbers in New Zealand, hopefully the first such player is already in the system somewhere, perhaps around 14 years old and getting a good grounding in the game "as we speak".
Read more about the O'hAilpin brothers on the AFL website at Ready for lift-off or see how coach Denis Pagan thinks Sean Og would have made the grade if a few years younger in Seán Óg ‘freakishly’ good, says Carlton coach on the Ireland On-line website.
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