LiveGaelic.com » Irish Experiment – AFL Season Recap Part 2

02 Oct

Irish Experiment – AFL Season Recap Part 2

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Posted by Colm Duffy in The Irish Experiment | Oct 2013

On Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of 100,007, Hawthorn finally regained the AFL Premiership cup they last held in 2008 with a 15 point victory over a gallant Fremantle side.

While all of the Irish AFL players were in holiday mode before Saturday’s main event, the victorious Hawks included in their ranks the son of an Irishman. Liam Shiels, whose father left Ireland as a 21 year old backpacker and ended up setting up home in Australia, played a vital role in Hawthorn’s victory as a defensive midfielder on Dockers’ star Stephen Hill.

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After covering the 2013 fortunes of Pearce Hanley, Niall McKeever and Tommy Walsh in our previous column, the focus now switches to the four remaining Irish players in the AFL.

Zach Tuohy – Carlton

The Laois man enjoyed an excellent season with Carlton, playing every game as a central cog of the Blues’ defence. While his side may have underperformed relative to pre-season expectations, Tuohy raised his game to career best levels in 2013. Tuohy’s role was mainly as a shutdown defender, picking up some of the oppositions most dangerous small forwards, which he managed quite successfully in most outings. Indeed one of the highlights of his season was a dominant display in restricting in-form Richmond star Dustin Martin to just 10 disposals in Round 21.

Tuohy had displayed a knack for kicking long range goals in previous seasons but he took that element of his game to a new level in the second half of the year. On numerous occasions he popped up to kick inspirational majors from long range, including three memorable goals in the Round 19 clash with Fremantle. If Tuohy can increase his disposal numbers by a handful of possessions per game in 2014 he could elevate himself into the elite category of AFL running defenders and improve on an impressive seventh place finish in the 2013 Carlton Best and Fairest.

Marty Clarke – Collingwood

The 2013 season started very well for Clarke as he built on a solid pre-season and NAB Cup campaign to earn a spot in the Magpies side for the opening rounds of the season. Playing mainly as a defensive wingman, the Down man turned in a number of impressive performances, particularly in Round 4 against Richmond where he had 18 touches and kicked his first goal for the season. However, an injury in the Round 7 defeat to Fremantle stymied Clarke’s progress and when he returned in Round 9 against Sydney he struggled with an adjusted role in defence.

After being dropped following the Round 10 victory against Brisbane, Clarke did not manage another senior appearance for the season, despite some tidy performances for the reserves. With his current contract entering its final year in 2014, Clarke will have one more season in which to establish himself as a required member of the Magpies line up, otherwise he could find himself on the chopping block as coach Nathan Buckley continues to invest game time in the club’s younger players.

Caolan Mooney – Collingwood

Despite only appearing twice for Collingwood’s senior side this year, it was another season of steady progress for the so-called “Road Runner”. He replaced fellow Down man Clarke as the substitute in Round 7 against Fremantle and looked assured in collecting eight disposals and nabbing an opportunist goal in the final quarter. However he did not reappear in the senior side until Round 17 which proved to be the nadir of the Magpies season, as they fell to a Gary Ablett inspired Gold Coast side to suffer their first ever defeat to the recently established Suns.

Mooney struggled when introduced as the sub and it was no surprise when he played out the remainder of the year in the reserves. In the positive column, Mooney’s form for the seconds was generally excellent with the highlight being a five goal haul against Williamstown in May, while he was also the Magpie most dangerous forward in their VFL finals defeat to Port Melbourne. He was rewarded with a new two year contract which will hopefully see an increase in his senior game time in 2014 and beyond.

Setanta O’hAilpin – GWS Giants

It was a disappointing season for O’hAilpin in what may prove to be his last in the AFL. After returning from the dreaded ACL tear suffered in his only 2012 appearance against Carlton, a number of niggling injuries meant he only made his 2013 season bow in the Round 4 clash with Melbourne. That game would prove to be the individual highlight of O’hAilpin’s season, as he kicked five goals in the Giants defeat. He would only make six more senior appearances for the season kicking 13 goals in total. It was no surprise when the big Cork man was delisted at season’s end with the Giants continuing to put faith in their youth first policy.

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