Zach Tuohy set to play 100th AFL game

Carlton Blues player could be joined on Aussie Rules team by Ciarán Byrne

Zach Tuohy will join a select group of recruits from the GAA world who have played 100 Australian Football League (AFL) games when he lines out in Melbourne's Etihad Stadium for Carlton Blues against Sydney Swans in Sunday's round-two clash.

And Tuohy could well be joined on the Blues team by Ciarán Byrne, who has been named on an extended panel of 25 for the clash.

Only three other players who made the transition from Gaelic games to Aussie Rules have reached 100 games in the AFL, or the VFL as the competition was known prior to its expansion.

Jim Stynes tops the list on 264, with his Melbourne clubmate Sean Wight next on 150. The only former GAA player to win a premiership, Tadhg Kennelly, retired on 197 and Pearce Hanley plays his 108th game this weekend.


To put the achievement into perspective, only two other players recruited directly from the GAA have exceeded 50 games: Setanta Ó h'Ailpín (88) and Martin Clarke (73).

Tuohy has established himself as a highly rated counterattacking defender since first catching the eye of the Carlton scouts for his performances in Laois’s run to a Leinster minor title in 2007.

He still returns for Portlaoise late on in the county championship. Such was his excellence last season that he was named in the AFL Coaches' Association's All-Australian team despite Carlton propping up the AFL table.

Former Louth senior Byrne gets the call-up after a performance for Carlton affiliate Northern Blues that was described by Carlton development coach Kieran McGuinness as “sensational”.

The 21-year-old finished the afternoon with 28 disposals, including an incredible second quarter where he collected 12 disposals and had a hand in three of Northern’s five goals for the period.

"[Ciaran has] shown a lot of positive signs in both his ability to defend and ability to create off the back half, so he shone through in those areas" said Northern Blues senior coach Josh Fraser.

Earlier this season, footage of Byrne’s amazing length-of-the-field goal had pundits purring. Byrne made his debut in round three last term but suffered a hamstring injury in training that halted his progress.