Okunbar signed, O'Connor elevated at Geelong
Tuesday, October 30 2018 @ 03:35 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Troy Thompson
Geelong has now officially signed Gaelic footballer Stefan Okunbor as a Category B Rookie for the next two seasons, after it was reported almost two weeks ago that the move was happening.
The Irishman is an emerging player in his homeland and has been on the AFL scouting radar for a few years. In 2017 Okunbor was invited to attend the AFL Academy Camp in Florida and the AFL National Combine in Melbourne.
The 20-year-old then returned home to Ireland to work on his game, playing for home club Na Gaeil in Tralee, University of Limerick and Kerry U20’s at inter-county level.
Okunbor had a dominant season in 2018 where he was awarded U20 Munster Player of the year and helped Kerry secure the Munster title with a man-of-the match display against Cork.
A well-rounded athlete, Okunbor has strong defensive qualities, and takes the game on with ball in hand.
Geelong’s recruiting team have followed the young defender closely over the last few years, and have been impressed by a number of his performances with Kerry and Na Gaeil.
"Stefan is a physical and competitive player. His speed, power and endurance are well-suited to AFL football,” Geelong’s recruiting and list manager Stephen Wells said.
“He is a talented young player, who has wholly committed to the opportunity of becoming an AFL footballer.”
Okunbor’s signing makes him the third Irishman on Geelong’s list, joining fellow Kerry local Mark O’Connor and Zach Tuohy at GMHBA Stadium. Okunbor will arrive at the Cats in November.
Geelong have also elevated rookies Jack Henry and Mark O’Connor to the club’s senior list.
A rookie draft selection in 2017, Henry enjoyed a breakout year, playing 22 consecutive games after his AFL debut in round 2. Henry was named the club’s Best Young Player at the club’s ‘Carji’ Greeves Medal after playing a key position role in both attack and defence, he also earned a rising star nomination in round 7.
A former Gaelic footballer, O’Connor joined the Cats in the 2016 pre-season and has played seven games since debuting in round 8, 2017 including this year’s elimination final clash with Melbourne.
Fellow Irishman Conor Glass was also upgraded to the Hawthorn senior list for the 2019 season.