Carlton’s national recruiting manager Shane Rogers has said that the club won’t rush Dublin’s dual underage star Ciarán Kilkenny into a trip to Australia to trial with the Melbourne-based side.
Rogers insisted that while the club is extremely keen on acquiring the services of the recently crowned Cadbury Hero Of The Future, he won’t be distracted from his GAA commitments this season.
“We’re definitely interested in him,” Rogers said.
“But we want him to continue doing what he’s doing. We don’t want to interfere with his involvement with Dublin. There are a number of players we are interested in, in Ireland, and will continue to look at. We want them to continue enjoying their footy and their life in Ireland and when they’re ready, they’ll make the call and can come out for a trial.”
Rogers said the success of the club’s Irish recruitment programme meant the Blues would continue to seek talent in Ireland for the foreseeable future.
“Two new franchises came in (Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast) so we have to look a little bit outside the square because there just aren’t enough players to go around, in our view.
“It’s the success we’ve had (in Ireland) that keeps us going back. We’ve tried multiple international markets. When you have a bit of success that drives you to keep going to certain markets as opposed to other markets that have failed in the past.”
While the Blues have attempted to harness talent from countries such as Fiji, America and Papua New Guinea, Rogers said he believed Irish players’ attitude and determination to succeed is what makes the prospect of recruiting them so attractive.
He cites former Laois Gaelic footballer Zach Tuohy as an ideal exponent of that.
“Zach Tuohy is an amazing story. He came here with Ciarán Sheehan (Cork). At the time Ciarán decided to go back. Ciarán looked like he could play AFL football tomorrow, he was a very talented player but he decided against it.
“Zach came with him the second time he came down. Zach probably didn’t have the athletic qualities that he had to play our game. But when he picked up the ball and started kicking it, we’ve gone ‘Wow have a look at this bloke, he’s doing it on his own’. So Zach’s got that competitive nature. And now his athletic stuff has really gone to an elite level. He’s really flourished in this environment.
The coaches won’t like to hear me say this, and they’ve done a great job with him, but Zach basically has done this himself. He’s a really driven kid. We were wrapped that he came over but we probably had our eyes on Ciarán and Zach was an added bonus. But Zach’s gone way beyond our expectations and become a really good AFL player.”
Rogers said the club’s most famous Irish signing, Setanta Ó hAilpín, would always be a Carlton favourite despite his departure to Greater Western Sydney after being delisted.
“Everyone loves Setanta here at Carlton football club. For us he’ll always be known as a Carlton player regardless of how long he plays at GWS. He’ll be welcome back here any time. He’s got lots of friends and he’s just a genuinely good fella and a talented fella too.
When I first started here in 2007, there would be people at training with Irish scarves on them and they would walk up and ask if they could have a photo with him. I thought, ‘Jeez, this bloke’s pretty big (famous)’, and it wouldn’t be an AFL football he’d be signing, they’d have a hurling stick and they’d be getting him to sign that. These people just loved him and we love him too.”
Ó hAilpín is out injured for the remainder of the season after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament in his first game for GWS against his old side Carlton.