Collingwood has signed Down teenager Caolan Mooney to a two-year international rookie contract commencing in the 2012
Caolan, who is considered to be one of the finest young players in the county, will finish his schooling in Ireland before he relocates to Melbourne at the end of 2011.
However, the club has played down reports that fellow Down star Martin Clarke may return to the Magpies fold.
“We have not asked him and he has not broached it,” Collingwood’s national recruiting manager Derek Hine told the Irish Echo.
“He’s playing great footy for Down and has an All Ireland semi final coming up. I am in regular contact with him as he lived with my family while he as in Melbourne but at no stage has [a possible comeback to Collingwood] been discussed.”
Clarke played 46 games for Collingwood before he returned to his homeland at the end of 2009. Reports in Ireland had suggested that he may be considering a return down under in 2011.
Meanwhile, Mr Hine said that they were looking forward to welcoming Clarke’s young county-man to Melbourne next year.
The 17-year-old trialled with the Magpies in June and showed enormous potential.
“He won’t be able to commence his contract until the end of the 2011 preseason, once he finishes his school and County commitments,” Mr Hine said.
The teenager’s signing is a by-product of a process that commenced 18 months ago.
“Our team in Ireland have done a lot of work with Caolan over a 6-8 month period,” Hine said. “I personally viewed him at the MacRory Cup semi final at Casement Park in Belfast which ironically was the same venue and same game where we first viewed Martin Clarke.
“On the back of his MacRory semi final performance and subsequent meetings with Caolan and his family, we invited Caolan to Collingwood for a month trial. As a by-product of that trial we are really comfortable offering Callum a two-year international contract commencing with the 2012 season.
“Caolan’s testing for speed, agility and vertical jump places him up at the very high end in comparison to our playing group. This coupled with Caolan’s ability to quickly adapt to the skill traits required for AFL which our development coaches Luke Beveridge and Paul Licuria observed and tested throughout his stay.
“Caolan’s performance was exciting given he has never had any exposure to structured training programs before so the pure scope for improvement is enormous once he enters our system full time.
“He really brings a point of difference with his sheer power and speed.
“Caolan comes from a terrific family who are very supportive. It’s a dream come true for him to play professional sport and we are really excited about him.
“It is very important that we continue to develop alternative talent pools to support and sustain our playing list given the introduction of the two new franchises in 2011 and 2012,” Mr Hine concluded.