Irish players in the AFL

Hawks hand Meath rookie AFL debut

Conor Nash becomes the third Irishman to debut in the AFL this season.

Conor Nash becomes the third Irishman to debut in the AFL this season.

Meathman Conor Nash will debut for Hawthorn FC this weekend, the third Irishman to debut in the AFL in 2018.

The 20-year-old joined the Hawks in late 2016 as a Category B rookie.

A promising athlete in his youth, Nash split his time playing Gaelic football and rugby. He represented Ireland in the U18 rugby side, and was touted as a star in the making due to his pace and stature.

He has since transferred these traits to the game of Aussie Rules, enjoying a breakout season with the Box Hill Hawks while averaging 13 disposals, four marks and just under a goal a game.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” Nash told Hawthorn's website after hearing the news that he’d be making his AFL debut against the Geelong Cats this weekend where he will come up against Laois-man Zach Tuohy and Kerryman Mark O'Connor who may get his first game for the year.

“When I found out yesterday in front of the family in the car, it was just pure joy."

Nash’s parents and young brother and sister were enjoying a holiday in Australia and were preparing to return to Ireland before receiving the news.

“Clarko (coach Alistair Clarkson) asked them if they could prolong their flights until Sunday or Monday,” Nash said. 

“I can’t wait, and I look forward to contributing to the team."

“They’ll get to see me play which is a very special moment for them, and for myself as well.”

The 197cm utility from Navan has shown an aptitude for several different positions on the ground, and says he’ll bring the pressure in whatever role he is given.

“I’ll be creating chaos, [creating] pressure as well, and using my speed and athleticism. 

“I’m sure I’ll be spent after the game.”

Nash becomes the third Irish player to debut in 2018 behind Tipperary's Colin O'Riordan for the Sydney Swans and Darragh Joyce for St Kilda. Nash's Irish teammate Conor Glass made his debut last year but none of the trio have been selected this weekend.

Elsewhere, Pearce Hanley is back in action for the Gold Coast Suns, Ciaran Byrne retains his place for Carlton and Conor McKenna starts for Essendon. 

Zach Tuohy kicks dramatic Geelong winner after the siren

Zach Tuohy is the toast of Geelong after scoring the winning goal for the Cats against Melbourne.

Zach Tuohy is the toast of Geelong after scoring the winning goal for the Cats against Melbourne.

Laois native Zach Tuohy had the biggest moment of his AFL career to date on Saturday, kicking the winning goal for Geelong after the final siren.

The 28-year-old marked the ball 30m from goal with five seconds left on the clock and held his nerve to give the Cats a two-point win over the Melbourne Demons at Kardinia Park in Geelong.

Tuohy, who was swung forward in a move made by defensive coach Matthew Scarlett to start the final term, took a contested mark against a lunging Neville Jetta.

Tuohy was mobbed by his Geelong teammates who ran in to celebrate with the defender-cum-forward.

"It's kind of a dream after the siren to win the game – it was a pretty special moment and I'm obviously pretty happy that it went through, but even if it didn't I would've been proud of the fact that I put myself in that position to get the win," he told reporters after the game.

Cats coach Chris Scott said it was Scarlett who deserved credit for moving Tuohy forward in the first place.

"Reg (Tuohy) did all the things in our front half that 'Scarlo' predicted he would," Scott said.

"He's a really good contested player and he's pretty cool under pressure too. There weren't many other players that we would have preferred with the ball in their hands at that stage."

Tuohy said he's not likely to make a habit of playing forward.

"It was news to me when it happened. It wasn't pre-planned. I've never played forward (in my career), not even for a minute," Tuohy said.

The former Laois Gaelic footballer has become one of the most successful Irish AFL players since starting his career at Carlton in 2010.

He has now played 161 AFL games (closing in on Tadhg Kennelly's 197) and has scored 51 goals. None have been quite as dramatic as his winner against the hapless Demons who were 31 points ahead early in the final quarter.