Boost for Dublin as Kilkenny returns
“Achieving success and realising my potential as a hurler and footballer with my club and county will always be more important to me than any of the benefits to be obtained from professional sport.”
It’s this “professional” lifestyle which typically appeals most to the young GAA player, and helped lure the likes of Armagh’s Kevin Dyas, Brendan Quigley and Colm Begley from Laois, Brendan Murphy from Carlow, and Cork’s Michael Shields down a similar path, and yet who, after various lengths of time, all returned home.
Others have integrated more successfully, namely Martin Clarke from Down and Kerry’s Tadhg Kennelly, who established themselves in the AFL, returned briefly to the GAA, then went back to the AFL.
Kilkenny, however, had seen enough during his few weeks in Australia to realise his heart was completely at home:
“It may seem like a short time to spend in Australia but I have always given absolute commitment to any team in which I was involved and I feel it would be unfair on both Hawthorn and myself to continue in a situation where I am not 100 per cent committed and happy in myself.
“Sport has always been something I did for enjoyment and I have found that it’s not something I can do merely because it’s my job. Going to live in Australia was never something I felt I had to do. I always said that if I didn’t go, I might have doubts or questions later on in life but having spent some time there now I’m happy that that those doubts and questions will not arise.”
Homeward bound Young talents who returned from the AFL
Colm Begley (Laois)
Joined the Brisbane Lions, in 2006, enjoyed three rollercoaster seasons, then after one season with St Kilda, was back playing for Laois.
Brendan Murphy (Carlow)
Signed with the Sydney Swans, in 2007, never quite made the grade, and is now happily back playing with Carlow.
Brendan Quigley (Laois)
Another recruit to the Brisbane Lions, in early 2007, he was back playing with Laois within a few months.
Michael Quinn (Longford)
Talks positively of his time with Essendon, where he spent three seasons, but was back playing with Longford last summer.
Ciarán Sheehan (Cork)
Went on trial to Carlton, in 2009, but didn’t pursue any contract, and won an All-Ireland with Cork a year later.
Michael Shields (Cork)
Also spent time with Carlton, in 2007, but cited homesickness for his return, and also won an All-Ireland in 2010.
John Heslin (Westmeath)
His much-lamented move to the Richmond Tigers last year didn’t last long as he too returned home.
Kevin Dyas (Armagh)
Another high profile signing, with Collingwood, in 2007, Dyas lasted two years before returning to Armagh.
Kyle Coney (Tyrone)
His sojourn as a rookie with the Sydney Swans was also short lived, as he returned home for Christmas in 2008, and didn’t go back.
– IAN O’RIORDAN