Irish youngster to train with St Kilda - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Irish youngster to train with St Kilda

By Sam Lienert 11/11/2008 06:00:54 PM Comments (0)

The teenager voted Ireland's best young Gaelic footballer will train with St Kilda later this month as he weighs up a possible move to the AFL.

Forward Tommy Walsh, 19, was last month named the Gaelic Athletic Association's young footballer of the year, so the news that the amateur Ireland could lose him to the AFL is expected to cause consternation in his homeland.

Player manager Ricky Nixon, who helped convince the forward to try his hand at the Australian game as part of his Irish talent-spotting program, acknowledged as much.

"It probably won't make people in Ireland too happy, but he's coming out," Nixon told Melbourne's SEN radio.

"I can't tell you if he'll want to play or stay or if he'll be good enough but he's definitely one of the best talents that I've seen."

Walsh played for Kerry in this year's All Ireland final.

Nixon described him as an athletic power forward "in the mould of a Wayne Carey type" and said he was the most exciting prospect of the large group of Irish youngsters his recruiting team had looked at.

"We pulled off a pretty big coup ... he's previously resisted every attempt to get him out here," he said.

He will come to Australia in a fortnight and train with the Saints for a week, although that does not rule out other AFL clubs recruiting him.

Nixon's program has resulted in several other Irish youngsters currently training or intending to train with AFL clubs.

Conor Meredith and Niall McKeever are currently with Richmond.

Next week, Meredith will train with North Melbourne, while McKeever will spend the week with the Saints.

Another Irishman, James Kielt, will train with both the Kangaroos and St Kilda in coming weeks, while Walsh and compatriot David Moran will try their hand with the Saints.

But Nixon said his systematic recruiting scheme was no reason for the Irish to be afraid that their youngsters would start heading to the AFL in droves.

He said the more likely outcome was that those who came to Australia would be better prepared and suited for an AFL career because they had been more thoroughly tested.

Under AFL rules, if a club reaches an agreement with an Irish player, the club can nominate them ahead of the rookie draft, guaranteeing they are able to recruit them to their rookie list.

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