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Friday, February 28 2020 @ 09:17 am ACDT

How Technology Is Helping AFL Scouts Keep A Keen Eye On The Irish


Marc McGowan from www.afl.com.au reports here on the measures being employed by AFL clubs to keep the performances of prospective Irish AFL recruits under tabs. With players like Zac Tuohy, Conor McKenna and Pearce Hanley well established on AFL club lists, and many others in the earlier stages of their careers, Irish recruiting is becoming a far more scientific and targeted enterprise. 

AFL SCOUTS in Australia are remotely watching Irish prospects train as international recruiting becomes increasingly sophisticated.

The preference is for them to use Gaelic footballs in 'small-sided' games, which involve four players against four, with recruiters most interested in everything but how they kick a Sherrin.   

Ex-Magpie Marty Clarke, who accepted a part-time role with the AFL last year, spearheads Ireland's development program, which sees about 30 young Gaelic footballers meet monthly. 

 All sessions are filmed, with battle-hardened former Irish AFL products such as Colm Begley, Caolan Mooney and Daniel Flynn invited into the fold to train alongside the younger prospects.   

World-leading sports data technology STATSports, where Clarke works full-time, also tracks all the Irishmen throughout their training, and the information is fed to interested AFL clubs.  

The technology is used in many leading sports competitions, including the English Premier League and the NBA, as well as major clubs such as Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

"The sessions themselves go for 70 or 80 minutes and are not particularly taxing, because they're still in the middle of a season, so we're looking for athleticism and smart play," Clarke told AFL.com.au.  

"Of course, we do some work with Sherrins, but in any of the small-sided games … we generally do them with the round ball, because their skills are good and the ball moves properly, rather than balls hitting the ground regularly.  

"We head in for lunch at the end of sessions, which generally coincide with a Friday or Saturday night AFL game, and we have it on the screen and talk players through the rules and game patterns.  

"Some of them have never watched an AFL game before."

To read the rest of Marc McGowan’s story, go to: https://www.afl.com.au/news/2019-05-04/how-technology-is-helping-afl-scouts-keep-a-keen-eye-on-the-irish

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