Seán Powter ready to make his mark – and find his roots – in Australia

Cork star’s Australian grandparents will watch him play for Ireland at Adelaide Park

Seán Powter training for the Ireland International Rules squad at St Anne’s Park, Adelaide. Photograph: Tommy Dickson

Seán Powter training for the Ireland International Rules squad at St Anne’s Park, Adelaide. Photograph: Tommy Dickson

 

The twists and turns and coincidences of Seán Powter’s life at the moment could have been taken from the pages of a 19th-century melodrama. His family background has already attracted interest from the local broadcasters.

It wasn’t quite stumbling on long-lost relatives, but it was true that he hadn’t seen his grandparents in a long time.

It’s known at this stage but, to recap, his father David is from Parkes in New South Wales and a former junior hockey international. He met his wife-to-be in Greece. She turned out to be an O’Donovan from Skibbereen and, through that, 20 years or so later, their son is now back in Australia, representing his mother’s country against his father’s.

He bolted through the year and, with the assistance of a couple of late withdrawals, found him himself leaping aboard as Joe Kernan filled the final vacancies.

There was even drama in the final hours before departure as he played an outstanding role in Douglas’s first under-21 county championship win before having to pack his bags and head to the other side of the world.

It was a memorable season in that even if Cork had another poor year, Powter’s emergence as an exciting and energetic talent versatile enough to play in either half line – an adaptability referred to by Kernan when he listed the attributes for good interchange players – culminated in a nomination as Young Footballer of the Year.

In the heat of St Mary’s Park, Adelaide, he reflected on the difference from an unseasonably cold Melbourne earlier in the week, let alone back home.

‘Hotter out there’

“It’s a lot hotter out there. Out there we were all struggling. We took five or six water breaks. In Ireland it’s six degrees now. It’s crazy to think within a few hours’ – well, a lot of hours – travelling, it’s 25 degrees.”

He hasn’t been here in quite a while.

“When I was younger I went a lot but I haven’t been in about 10 years. So I got to see my grandparents and my auntie yesterday for the first time in 10 years. It was unbelievable. I’m going to see them again after this.

“They’ve travelled 12 hours to get here, driving. That just shows how big Australia is. They’re going to go to the game on Sunday.”

His father is unable to join them in the Adelaide Oval, having been taken by surprise by his son’s late co-option.

“Yeah. It was late notice, he was tempted to come but he already had booked for Christmas and couldn’t really change with work.”

He’s well catered for in the Cork department by fellow panellist Eoin Cadogan, a fellow clubman from Douglas, who was singing his young room-mate’s praises earlier in the week.

“Ah, it’s brilliant. Seánie Powter epitomises the type of energy that a young guy brings to a panel. He’s ballsy, he goes for everything and that’s reflected this year in his performances for Cork. He was like a guy with no shackles on, he just went for everything. Joe and the lads have been really impressed with him. It’s brilliant to have two guys from the same club on it. I’m even stuck rooming with him, I’m not sure who’s minding who. It’s brilliant.”

With the uncertainty created by the stomach bug which threatens to remove three players from full match involvement, a heavier burden will fall on everyone else.

Significant role

He’s being prepared for a significant role but also getting his cards marked on the realities of the international game for a relatively slight speedster.

“Joe’s warned me not to bring the ball into contact, just avoid it. It’s something different. We know the Aussies are going to be aggressive. That’s all they’re saying is aggression, aggression. We saw what your man said about us, calling us amateurs and saying they have higher fitness levels. That’ll just drive us on.”

There has already been speculation that he’s cut out for the task of marking one of the AFL’s most menacing forwards, Eddie Betts, who also has a fine track record in the international series.

“Joe hasn’t said anything yet but I want the challenge of marking the best. I want to mark Eddie, I know he’s something special.”

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