By Marc McGowan
Carlton’s Irish recruiting mission has unearthed two new Blues.
The Age revealed last month that Carlton were heading to Ireland in the same week as the All-Ireland final to run their eyes over a batch of local hopefuls keen to make the switch to the AFL.
Two well-placed sources familiar with the Blues’ plans but not authorised to speak publicly confirmed they had settled on 194-centimetre running machine Matt Duffy, who plays for Longford, and highly rated Kerry under-20 footballer Rob Monahan.
Duffy, one of Ireland’s rising stars, won the two-kilometre time trial as part of the testing the Irish players conducted and his height and endurance mean he projects as a versatile option.
The last Longford player to compete in the AFL was Essendon’s Michael Quinn, who played eight matches in 2009 and 2010.
Monahan, who is 189 centimetres, is also an excellent athlete and has already performed well in Gaelic football, hurling and rugby.
Both players are 19 and will accept two-year category B rookie contracts, subject to them passing medical testing. Carlton’s VFL coach, Luke Power, is expected to work closely with them.
Carlton list boss Nick Austin, national recruiting manager Michael Agresta and club legend Greg Williams all made the trip, and were impressed with the players’ athleticism, speed and skills after overseeing a battery of testing and drills.
Duffy and Monahan took part in AFL-run sessions under Gerard Sholly’s watch, with former Magpie Marty Clarke and ex-Giant Cora Staunton also involved in the program designed to bring prospects up to speed.
St Kilda and Gold Coast have also travelled to Ireland on scouting missions, as AFL clubs prepare to again invest in the so-called “Irish experiment” after a lull owing largely to COVID-19 and reduced resources.
There are 11 Irish players on AFL lists this year, and league talent ambassador Kevin Sheehan told this masthead last month that the plan was to bring four of the best Irish aspirants to Australia for the annual draft combine.
Carlton are not new to the Irish scene, with Zach Tuohy (before he moved to Geelong), the O’hAilpin brothers – Setanta and Aisake – Ciaran Byrne, Ciaran Sheehan, Michael Shields and, more recently, Cillian McDaid among their recruits.
Tuohy broke the late Jimmy Stynes’ VFL/AFL games record for Irishmen of 264 matches this year, and had countrymen Mark O’Connor and Oisin Mullin in the Cats’ team with him for the historic occasion.
The Blues are likely to invest more resources in alternative recruiting options, from Ireland to their Next Generation Academy and father-son prospects, including Lucas and Ben Camporeale, the twin sons of premiership-winning Blue Scott.
Suitors wait on Georgiades
Strong-marking Port Adelaide forward Mitch Georgiades is still undecided on where he will play beyond this season.
The 21-year-old, who was the No.18 pick in the 2019 draft, is recovering from his ACL rupture in April. So far, he is only speaking to the Power despite having suitors in both Victoria and his home state Western Australia, a source familiar with the situation but not authorised to speak publicly told Money Talks.
West Coast made him a formal offer last year, but Georgiades opted to instead complete his contract at Alberton.
He spent time in the SANFL this season and part of the complication is Port Adelaide are blessed for key forward options, from veteran Charlie Dixon, to Todd Marshall, Jeremy Finlayson, Ollie Lord and Tom Scully. But the Power are keen to retain Georgiades.
The Eagles remain interested in Georgiades, while Fremantle are another option, even with Jye Amiss, in particular, and Josh Treacy showing promise in the Dockers’ forward line.
Hawthorn are on the hunt for a key forward, hoping to find a reliable partner for star spearhead Mitch Lewis. Out-of-contract Giant Jake Riccardi is one player in the Hawks’ sights.
They are close to re-signing mid-season draftee Brandon Ryan, who has kicked four goals in two senior games, and they also have Jacob Koschitzke on the list. Hawthorn are in the market for a key defender as well, along with Sydney, Port Adelaide, Essendon and Collingwood.
North Melbourne, too, would love more aerial support for Nick Larkey.
Quiet trade period?
There is talk most years that the player movement period will be underwhelming, but that chatter is louder and more consistent from various parts of the industry this time around.
It might just crank up later than usual, with theories on the delayed activity ranging from the high number of teams still in the finals race, to the holding pattern on several key free agents and out-of-contract players, and even clubs being too risk averse.
A good portion of clubs are prioritising the draft and mostly unwilling to part with the precious few high picks at their disposal.
However, expect things to get moving once restricted free agents such as Ben McKay, Darcy Parish, Jade Gresham and Tom Doedee make their call, along with the likes of Mitch Georgiades, Esava Ratugolea, Sam Flanders, Matt Crouch, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, Hunter Clark, James Jordon and Dylan Stephens.
More locked-away Tigers
Richmond have re-signed both of their mid-season draftees from this year, Matthew Coulthard and James Trezise.
Coulthard was the No.4 pick, while the Tigers snared Trezise with the second-last selection of the night.
The pair nominated for the draft with only six-month contracts that expire at season’s end, but both will continue next year and have the chance to prove they can be long-term options at Punt Road.
Coulthard, 22, has already made four senior appearances, while Trezise, 21, is averaging 17 disposals and almost two intercept marks in the VFL.
Only the first three players taken in this year’s mid-season draft – West Coast’s Ryan Maric, Kangaroo Robert Hansen jnr and Hawthorn ruckman Clay Tucker – requested 18-month deals when they nominated for the draft.
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