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Kennelly sees 20 or more countrymen Down Under

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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.

Read more in:

Greem light for Irish invasion: Kennelly

Murphy makes the cut with the Swans

cholarship "sets the standard": Sellers

Tyrone youngster gets AFL trial

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Kennelly sees 20 or more countrymen Down Under | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Australia vs Ireland
Authored by: Niels Schønnemann on Friday, December 14 2007 @ 06:36 am ACDT

I wonder if the number actually do swell to the extend of 30 or so irish playing regular AFL football, if there would be a future for an all-stars game (or true international) between Ireland and Australia in stead of the international rules series. Perhaps even exchanging the end-of-season AFL show game in London with that.?

Australia vs Ireland
Authored by: Brett Northey on Friday, December 14 2007 @ 12:26 pm ACDT

Hi Niels. Yes this was discussed on another thread recently, with mixed opinions. IF the Irish keep coming, maybe we could see a true Australian Football international between Australia and Ireland. Probably 20 to 30 players to select from won't be enough to field a winning team against an All-Australian side, but playing for their country, I'd expect them to be strongly competitive and well worth watching.

Or in 10 years Australia versus the World, with Irish, South Africans, Papuans? Worth watching, though I'm not sure it would grab the imagination of the public like playing against a single country would. However it emerges, just being able to stage Australia versus someone would provide a good opportunity to showcase the sport in Australia and the world, e.g. Australia versus Ireland, 3 matches, 1 at the MCG, 1 in Ireland if they could secure a decent cricket oval, 1 in London or Florida.

All this of course is highly speculative and dreamy, but does seem to be slowly working out.

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Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Kennelly sees 20 or more countrymen Down Under
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Friday, December 14 2007 @ 08:55 am ACDT

Let's say that within 5 years there's up to 20-30 Irish, and if not just Irish, perhaps the first couple of PNG and Sth African boys. That, along with increased recruitment from QLD, and the increasing focus on NSW using much of the QLD learnings - - surely then, there's a valid argument that an 18 team competition is necessary otherwise we risk dissuading kids from seeking what is often a short term elite level career. One of the best arguments at present for kids to go for an AFL career is the high number of local well paid positions. Broadening the recruitment base devalues this proposition.

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On the international level - it'd be cool to have a true international test. However, a lot of folk keep bagging the International Rules matches and yet forget that they display the truest 'spirit' of Australian Football. That of 'compromise' and 'participation'. Unlike the Rugby/Soccer split and then subsequent Union/League splitting. Australian Football was able to achieve a compromise set of rules for all to play together. When I see those games I see the embodiement of the ideal of doing what needs to be done to have a game, to have a kick and to play together rather than apart. And whilst these games continue, we can take pride that we give the GAA boys a national rep focus and a potential professional career path - that for now, doesn't kill off the local game - but, rather, and I think the GAA can sometimes be a little negative on this point - the players moving to the AFL will actually be the best advertisement for kids in Ireland taking up Gaelic rather than soccer for example. It would be different if the ARFLI were growing at a rapid rate at the expense of the GAA - but clearly this is not the case.
So - perhaps for this relationship to continue in a healthy manner, a semi-pro GAA with players willing to make the commitment heading to Australia, and compromise rules test matches to celebrate the even greater inter-relationship. Perhaps that's the better path. It's not all about us (Aust Footy).