GAA in the dark over AFL recruitment camps

Updated: February 19, 2012

Kerry legend Tadhg Kennelly has been left embarrassed after the GAA distanced itself from his efforts to recruit rising football stars such as Donegal star Patrick McBrearty to the AFL.

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Ulster Championship medalist McBrearty attended an Aussie Rules scouting camp yesterday at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, which was hosted by Kennelly and AFL Europe. Others put through their paces with the oval ball included Dublin dual stars Ciarán Kilkenny – already targeted by the Carlton Blues – and Emmet Ó Conghaile. Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey was also present along with Tipperary’s minor All-Ireland winners Ian Fahy and Michael Quinlivan. Others seeking a professional AFL contract are Kildare’s Seán Hurley, Emmett Bradley of Derry, Eoin Carroll from Offaly, Muiris Bartley from Cork and Armagh’s Conor Gough.

“In relation to Tadhg Kennelly’s appointment, Andrew Demetriou [AFL chief executive] would have been in contact with Páraic Duffy,” said GAA Operations Manager – Fergal McGill. “I wouldn’t say we’ve had any further formal communications with them. If they want to inform us [about recruitment camps] as a matter of courtesy that’s fine but it is nothing to do with us. Same goes for soccer or rugby signing up fellas who are playing GAA, they don’t tell us either.”

“We won’t prevent people playing other codes,” – GAA President Christy Cooney

GAA president Christy Cooney also said he knew nothing about the camp. “I have gone through this whole rigmarole about Australia before and I don’t mean that in a negative way but we have only a handful of players playing in Australia and if people want to play Australian Rules or play professionally, they have that right and we would never stand in their way. That right is open to any player in any code, whether it is rugby, soccer, AFL, whatever it is, they have that right and if they get a career out of it we wish them the best of luck. We can’t stand in any players way if they want to play an international game and we should never try.”

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