Ciaran Byrne in line for first AFL start with Carlton

Former Louth player named in squad with Ciaran Sheehan and Zach Tuohy

Having made the switch to AFL side Carlton early last year former Louth footballer Ciaran Byrne could be in line for his debut with the club's first team this week.

The 20-year-old has been named alongside fellow Irish players Ciaran Sheehan and Zach Tuohy in the club's squad for their opening game in the NAB Cup pre-season tournament.

The 29-man squad for the Friday night game against West Coast in Mandurah was released on Wednesday and will be cut down to 26 players on game day.

Having not yet featured for the first team the former DCU student will be hopeful that he makes the cut and sees action, as he looks to build on the tail end of last year when he spent some time training with the group.

He is said to have excelled in a number of speed and fitness based assessments since his arrival, and according to his stand-in captain his hard work at familiarising himself with kicking the oval ball has really begun to pay off.

When he was still only 18, Byrne started in all four of Louth’s 2013 championship games rotating between corner and wing forward, scoring 1-7 in his final two matches that year against Antrim and Kildare.

Like Sheehan and Tuohy though, formerly of Cork and Laois respectively, he is being utilised in the backline for his new club.

Carlton go into Friday's game missing a number of players including former Bronlow medallist Chris Judd which leaves the door open to the Irish contingent. They are to be captained by Same Rowe for the night and he's been talking to the Australian press this week about his Irish team mates;

“We will also have three Irishman playing in the backline in Zack Tuohy and the two Ciarans, Byrne and Sheehan. Those three have all had really good pre-seasons and are exciting for us.

“Ciaran Byrne has worked so hard on his game and takes it on, plus his kicking is now very much at AFL level.

“It’s an exciting time to get on board and while we may not have the success in recent years, we know we have turned the corner and there are some exciting times ahead.”

Tuohy is an example for the two more recent recruits, Byrne and Sheehan,of the progress that can be made in the Australian game. Now into his fifth year at the club he comes off-the-back of a very consistent season in which he clocked up his 76th appearance and 25th goal.

Sheehan, five years older than Byrne but also in the club for little over a year, already has made four senior appearances.

Interestingly though the club’s head of recruiting Shane Rogers who was responsible for bringing the duo to the club has this week quit his role.