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Swans, Roos and Dons head to Ireland on scouting mission

THE AFL will bring four Irish prospects out to Australia in April after a successful Combine in Dublin last weekend.

Twenty of Ireland’s best underage Gaelic footballers converged on University College to be put through their paces by former Collingwood defender and AFL Europe specialist coach Marty Clarke and AFL international talent manager Kevin Sheehan.

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Several AFL clubs had representatives on hand, with Sydney’s list and recruiting manager Kinnear Beatson making the trip to the northern hemisphere, while recruiters from North Melbourne and Essendon were also in attendance.

Sheehan told AFL.com.au interest among clubs is ramping up with a record 14 Irishmen currently on AFL lists.

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“The Combine was a fantastic standard, and there’s no doubt they’re elite young athletes and footballers,” Sheehan said.

“They’re also a diverse group as well as they come (from) 17 of the counties of Ireland and they’re aged between 16 and 21.

“It was a great experience for the AFL clubs that were there and the boys that were there, and they adjusted well to the oval ball.

“We’ll bring four players out in April and they’ll join our NAB AFL Academy in Melbourne, so they’ll integrate with the Australian boys and be on display for the 18 clubs to have a good look at.”

Sheehan said it was a big tick for the program that Beatson made the trip to Dublin with the prospect off adding another Irishman to join countryman Colin O’Riordan in Sydney.

“I think it’s terrific that Kinnear Beatson was there overseeing the Combine because they’re an innovative club in looking at all angles of recruiting – Americans and Irishmen,” Sheehan said.

“North Melbourne and Essendon also had scouts there, so a few clubs were getting in first to get a good look at these players.”

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Out of the 20 prospects to impress most, Sligo’s Luke Towey displayed excellent speed and agility, recording 2.82 seconds in the 20m sprint and 7.93 in the agility test.

Armagh’s Ross McQuillan is an aggressive 18-year-old who also possesses fantastic vision and complemented those admirable attributes with an impressive showing in the sprint testing (2.77).

Under-20 Gaelic All Star Mark Barrett also caught the eye of recruiters, with the Kildare product also setting fantastic times in the sprint (2.98) and agility (8.04).

And Clare’s Sean O’Donoghue is another exciting prospect, with the mobile forward spending a large chunk of his childhood living in Chicago playing basketball and American football.

Source: AFL FOOTBALL NEWS