AFL side Carlton have signed up young Louth player Ciarán Byrne for the next two season on an international rookie contract. 18-year-old Byrne will join Laois' Zach Tuohy at the club.
He will travel to Arizona to meet up with the team in December, after which he will come home for Christmas and then head to Melbourne to commence training with the side there.
Carlton's general manager Andrew McKay was impressed with Byrne's athleticism:
Ciaran’s a good athlete and a good running player, in keeping with all Gaelic footballers. He stands 6’2 or 6’3 in the old measurement and is quite an athletic player. It’s all well and good to kick and catch, but you also need to understand where the ball’s going to go and to read the play a bit and he’s never played the game before. So it’s going to take some time.
Zach Tuohy also had some words of encouragement:
I’ve always said I’ll always encourage any Irish player to come over and give it a go . . . it’s not a holiday – it is hard work, you need to be determined and it has to be what you want to do..
I always liked the idea of having another Irish teammate and hopefully I can help Ciaran out the same way Setanta (O’hAilpin) helped me out early on.
Ciaran’s got a lot of talent. He’s got a lot of attributes that would really suit AFL. He seemed to enjoy his time here and I’m very confident he’ll come out, be here for a long time and become a very good player.
Byrne was a regular for the Louth senior side this year
Check out some clips of Byrne in action for the Louth minors in 2011.