Kennelly sees 20 or more countrymen Down Under
Friday, December 14 2007 @ 12:06 am ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
The Sydney Swans' first GAA recruit, Tadhg Kennelly, has spoken of his mixed feelings regarding the recruitment of other Irish players to the AFL. Although he is keen to encourage players that have undertaken the journey, he also says the idea that Gaelic football back home may be adversely affected "doesn't sit too pretty with me. The last thing I want to do is to see the GAA, or the game itself, suffer". He also spoke glowingly of the Swans' latest recruit, and didn't rule out there being 20 to 30 Irish players in the AFL within just two or three years. In fact Sydney may have their eyes set on another player already.
Kennelly sees recent moves at the GAA as the start of traditional Irish sports becoming semi-professional. "They are probably going to bring in some policy and get players to sign contracts. Recently, they have set up a players' association, and the Government is funding $5 million to give to players. So it's the beginning of an era in Gaelic football where players are going to be paid". He says the first step for the GAA to stop the current trend of players heading to Oz from becoming a flood is to resume their relationship with the AFL.
Sydney's latest Irish recruit, Brendan Murphy, will be living with Tadhg. At 195 cm, other than the part Fijian O'hAilpins, Murphy will break the mould of Irish recruits being mid-sized running halfbacks or midfielders, though his running power is reportedly impressive.
There is also a report that young Tyrone star Kyle Coney will trial with Sydney for two weeks in June 2008.
As exciting as the surge in Irish recruits is for Aussie Rules, one starts to wonder if there could be an Australian backlash, as fewer places are filled on AFL lists by young Australian players. It isn't much of an issue now, but if the number of players from Ireland grows quickly to 20 or 30, the sudden change may see some resentment.
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