The AFL European Draft combine took place today at UCD, with a number of exciting young GAA prospects taking part.
The two-day testing event is an opportunity for players to impress onlooking scouts. It is organised by AFL International Talent Manager Kevin Sheehan.
Amidst the players involved today was Galway All-Ireland minor winner and cousin of Joe, Jack Canning. Canning is also an extremely talented rugby player, having played Senior Cup with Cistercian Roscrea. There were fears within Galway that the youngster may opt for rugby over hurling. That threat to his hurling future could now be twofold should he have impressed the scouts today.
The AFL Combine invites players from multiple sporting backgrounds to try out. Today's event was also overseen by former AFL players and Gaelic footballer's Marty Clarke and Colm Begley.
Former AFL players Marty Clarke and Colm Begley put the prospects through their paces at the European Combine in Dublin. pic.twitter.com/MRcOoiixXW
— Ryan Davidson (@ryandavo_) December 2, 2017
Cork minor Mark Keane impressed onlookers, as did Dublin youngster James Madden:
Some special AFL prospects here at European Combine in Ireland - James Madden from Dublin just smashed all time 20m record with 2.68 sec !
— Kevin Sheehan (@AFL_Shifter) December 1, 2017
Galway footballer Cillian McDaid was just the latest to make the move to the AFL. He joined Carlton in Melbourne last month after testing in the AFL academy last year. The other two players involved in that 2016 event, Ray Connellan of Westmeath and Darragh Joyce of Kilkenny, were also signed by AFL club St. Kilda afterwards.
Anton Tohill, son of GAA legend Anthony Tohill, was also in attendance today.
— Ryan Davidson (@ryandavo_) December 1, 2017
Kerry's Barry O'Mahony, Adam Donoghue and Chris O'Donoghue, Kildare's David Kelly, Cork's Fiachra Clifford, Dublin's Leon Young and Cavan's Ronan Petterson and James Smith were all involved in the event.
Former Kerry footballer Mark O'Connor and Derry's Conor Glass both came through the combine to secure contracts down under. Ireland has proved a popular breeding ground for international category B rookies since Kennelly launched the scheme and it will be interesting to see who of today's group impressed AFL onlookers.