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'All The Irish Players Out Here Are In A WhatsApp Group Called 'The Takeover''

'All The Irish Players Out Here Are In A WhatsApp Group Called 'The Takeover''
By PJ Browne Updated

Even with the retirement of Ciarán Sheehan, Melbourne is the place to be if you're an Irish Aussie rules player and you want the company of other Irish in similar circumstances.

Six Irish players are based in the Melbourne area. Conor McKenna, Ciaran Byrne, Ray Connellan, Darragh Joyce, Conor Nash and Conor Glass all play with teams in Melbourne. Stretch the circle a little bit further out to Geelong and it can include Mark O'Connor and Zach Tuohy.

Conor McKenna said last year that all the young players in the Melbourne area would get together every few weeks at Sheehan's place for a few drinks and some food. Rivals they might have been on the pitch but good friends they are off it.

In an interview with the AFL website, Kilkenny man Darragh Joyce - who along with Ray Connellan plays with St. Kilda - revealed that all of the Irish players in Australia are in a WhatsApp group together. Its name is inspired by Conor McGregor's 2014 declaration after defeating Diego Brandao in Dublin - "We're not here to take part, we're here to take over".

Joyce added that Laois man Tuohy, who joined Carlton in 2010 before moving to Geelong last year, is the father figure of the group.

All the Irish players out here are in a WhatsApp group called "the takeover" in honour of  Conor McGregor, and  Zach Tuohy is definitely the father figure.

I think there's five or six of us in Melbourne, so it's great to hear an accent and catch up with the lads – it makes it easier with homesickness.

Joyce and Connellan - both entering their second seasons with St. Kilda - are currently with the AFL team's Victoria Football League affiliate Sandringham. Joyce said that there's a competitiveness between him and Westmeath man Connellan. "If Ray got a senior debut and I didn't, you'd be happy for him, but also pissed off."

Joyce said that dropping down to the VFL reserves last season "stung" but he ultimately sprung back. Connellan even took inspiration from how his teammate dealt with the situation.

You could see he was flat when he went down, but his next game back in the seniors was his best and the confidence came with it.

He could see the grit that said, 'You're not going to drop me again'.

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