Time ticking away for O'hAilpins
Friday, April 11 2008 @ 07:56 am ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
Journalist Jake Niall has an interesting piece on the Real Footy website regarding Carlton's Irish O'hAilpin brothers. Niall discusses the players' futures with Carlton football operations manager, Stephen Icke. Whilst Icke plays down the angle that the Blues' patience is running out, Niall makes a persuasive argument that this author tends to reluctantly agree with.
Whilst we've long noted the achievements of Setanta (pictured leftmost) and Aisake, we've also questioned whether their conversion to first choice AFL footballers will be a success. General opinion amongst the football public has ranged from those Carlton faithful sure they will be champions, to sceptics who say they won't be around in 12 months. So how are their careers progressing?
As Niall points out, Setanta is now 25, with one year on his contract to go, after five seasons at the club. Aisake, at 22, may have more time to make the transition, but remains behind his brother. Both are amazing athletes (Aisake is listed as 201 cm, a questionably low 86 kg and and yet an impressive endurance athlete). Both have looked likely to fill ruck or key position places. But with a hurling background rather than elite Gaelic football, perhaps the change is too much.
Setanta has 36 senior AFL games to his credit, and still shows glimpses of enormous talent. But he has often been used in the ruck where, to be brutally honest, he struggles to win a tap. In defence he has had solid games on big name players, but other times struggles with body position and one on one tactics. His hands do not appear safe enough for a key forward role. If he is to establish himself as a 150 game player it looks like defence is most likely.
The truth is that Carlton's patience is borne of desperation given their poor playing stocks for many years. It's highly unlikely any other club would have persisted with Setanta. Aisake has yet to play a senior match of the Blues. The harsh reality is that each year AFL clubs will cut 5 to 10 players from their list. At the end of 2008, unless both Irishmen make gains - Setanta establishing a regular position and Aisake making at least a cameo appearance, the Carlton hierarchy will surely wonder whether there are still 5 or more other players that should be cut ahead of the brothers. Nevertheless, it is possible that they will continue into 2009. But without significant improvement, the hurling experiment may then come to an abrupt close. International footy fans will closely watch their every game and cheer them on in every contest - it's not too late for them to become first rate players at Carlton.
Niall's article is Trial and error. You can also vote in our poll in the right hand column.
Meanwhile Carlton's other Irish recruit, rookie Michael Shields, recently got his first set of wheels in Australia, with the assistance of a Carlton sponsor. See Peter Stevens helps Shields drive away.