Clarke accepts new AFL role

March 21, 2018

Marty Clarke.
©INPHO/Bryan Keane.

Former Down footballer Marty Clarke has taken on a role helping gaelic footballers complete the transition to Aussie Rules.

Clarke, who represented the Mourne County in the 2010 All-Ireland final, enjoyed spells playing with Collingwood in the AFL either side of that excellent championship run.

He was involved in an AFL camp in Florida this year and told the AFL website about his new brief: "It will be up to me to meet the boys, maintain a relationship with them, conduct a couple of training sessions and watch game footage with them."

"I'll be catching up with them to take eight to ten group sessions, but they'll [be] keeping an eye on the AFL season and keeping themselves up to date with the everything that's happening. They'll also be keen to see how the Irish boys are going. They had a great experience in America and are keen to get picked up by a club, so hopefully they get drafted in November."

When challenged with the level of insecurity and unhappiness a lot of GAA fans might feel over a role that entices young talent away from Ireland, Clarke cited the likes of Michael Quinn (Essendon / Longford), Caolan Mooney (Collingwood / Down) and Daniel Flynn (Port Adelaide / Kildare) as examples of gaelic footballers who benefited from their experiences Down Under:

"The statistics are there that the boys that go out to Australia are only a tiny percentage of registered GAA players, and in the last 30 years, there's only been 50 prospects come over.

"The vast majority of those boys have come back within three years and are bigger and better players for their clubs and counties.

"And AFL clubs know it's very high risk to take on an Irish boy, but the chance of getting a Zach Tuohy, Tadhg Kennelly, Jim Stynes and Pearce Hanley is a great temptation."

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