Magpies catch up with media-shy Clarke - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies catch up with media-shy Clarke

Tom Wald 22/10/2010 03:05:14 PM Comments (0)

Former Collingwood player Marty Clarke is remaining coy about his prospects of returning to the AFL.

The homesick Gaelic footballer headed back to the Emerald Isle last year and was a driving force in Down reaching this year's All-Ireland final.

Clarke caught up with Magpies coach Mick Malthouse and members of the 2010 premiership side in Limerick on Thursday night at a function ahead of Saturday's International Rules opener.

And just in case no one had noticed Malthouse and Clarke having a quiet word at Limerick City Hall, Clarke's Irish teammate Tadhg Kennelly could not help but draw attention to their chat.

"He's staying here, Mick. He is staying here," Kennelly cheekily said at a loud enough volume to ensure Malthouse's cheeks turned just a hint of crimson.

Later on at the reception, Clarke joked with old teammates Dane Swan and Tyson Goldsack - both members of this month's flag-winning side.

"It was good to get to talk to them again," Clarke said.

"Especially after the year they had, it was really exciting and I just wanted to congratulate them," he said.

But did they chat about him returning to the AFL club?

Clarke danced around the question like a would-be tackler, producing an inaudible answer that would need CIA technology to make sense of it.

His public comments have so far suggested that he is not in a hurry to head back to Australia but the financial inducements must be tempting.

Gaelic football is an amateur sport and Ireland is in the midst of an economic crisis.

The nation's unemployment rate has tripled in the past three years to 13.7 per cent with savage budget cuts expected to further hinder economic activity.

The strong Australian dollar could also add to the allure for the 22-year-old to have another crack at the AFL.

Kennelly himself is only too aware of the pull of the old country.

The premiership-winning Sydney player returned home in 2009 and fulfilled his childhood dream by joining his father and brother as All-Ireland medallists.

Swans coach Paul Roos attended last year's 2009 All-Ireland final but the club took a softly-softly approach before Kennelly opted to return to the harbour city.

Clarke narrowly missed out on matching Kennelly's feat with Down losing by just one point to Cork in last month's All-Ireland final.

If he were to head back to Australia, it would be in the knowledge his absence would severely damage Down's chances of capturing their first All-Ireland title since 1994.

Australian coach Malthouse will no doubt be treading a very delicate path when their paths cross during the two-match International Rules series, starting Saturday at the Gaelic Grounds and ending in Dublin on October 30.

A new rule introduced in August to give AFL clubs other options of recruiting players could allow Collingwood a chance to claim Clarke without him having to go in the draft.

The rule is for players that leave the game on compassionate grounds.

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