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Wednesday, December 19 2018 @ 05:39 pm ACDT

Irish International Begley hits the bigtime

Europe19 year old Irishman Colm Begley made his senior debut for the Brisbane Lions on the weekend, capping off a meteoric rise to AFL football. Recruited from amateur Gaelic Football club County Laois, Begley played his first game of Australian rules football this year, and lined up in the NAB Cup quarter-final in just his third game of Australian football.

Begley was elevated to the senior list after a string of injuries to regular Lions players. His senior debut for the Lions against the West Coast Eagles included a stint manning up on AFL superstar Chris Judd. Begley's final statistics included 5 kicks, 2 handballs, an impressive 7 marks and 2 hitouts.

Unfortunately for both Begley and the Lions, the loss at home to West Coast is the latest blow for the once powerhouse AFL club which some months ago resolved itself to its second successive season outside of the finals since the club's four consecutive Grand Final appearances. These circumstances have, however, proved favourable for young players like Begley, providing plenty of opportunities to get valuable senior AFL experience toward at the tail end of the season.

While Colm looks set for a promising professional AFL career, he may find it tough sustaining a senior position at the Brisbane Lions due to competition with promising young local products such as Jason Roe and Scott Harding, although the retirement of key Lions premiership players have made helped make way for younger players like Begley.

Meanwhile rumours of Collingwood's signing of Irish international rookie Martin Clarke has also been confirmed by recent reports in The Age.

Of all of the AFL clubs this season, the recruitement of young Irish rookies would appear to be a key strategy of Brisbane Lions and Collingwood clubs, with both conducting several trials to identify talented Irish youngsters who are willing to make the move to Australia to play professional football. It is a strategy that has had mixed results, with several players flatly refusing lucrative offers to make the move and others returning due to homesickness. Overall, however, the ability of Begley, ? hAilp?n brothers, Kennelly and Stynes before him, many of the players who have come across have proved capable of competing at the highest level.

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