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15 Aug

The Irish Experiment – AFL Round 20 – Off the Field

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Posted by Colm Duffy in The Irish Experiment | Aug 2013

Colm Duffy rounds up all the action from Down Under in AFL Round 19, with a lot of the most interesting action happening away from the pitches and training grounds this week.

The Irish Experiment – AFL Round 20

Uncertainty for Hanley & McKeever

Once again events off the field took centre stage in the AFL world this week, as Essendon coach James Hird and three other Bombers’ backroom staff were charged with bringing the AFL into disrepute over the alleged illegal drugs program the club ran over 2011 and 2012.

While this does not have any direct impact on any of the Irishmen in the AFL, the other major news story of the week saw Pearce Hanley and Niall McKeever lose their Head Coach Michael Voss. Voss, a Brisbane Lions legend and Brownlow Medalist, took over the Lions in 2009 and led them to the finals in his debut season at the helm. However a failure to improve from there on saw him pay the ultimate price on Tuesday and the resulting uncertainty may have an impact on both Irish Lions.

Hanley, who had another productive outing against Richmond on Saturday with 24 possessions and 2 goals, has yet to sign a new contract and as one of their prized assets the Lions will be eager to secure him to a long term deal irrespective of the coaching situation. For McKeever, who again missed the weekend’s action with a slight injury, the situation is less clear. Given his inability to get a consistent run at senior level, he may have to convince the new coach of his potential and upside in order to secure a contract extension.

The Lions face the GWS Giants on Saturday evening and another strong display from Hanley will surely cement his spot in the All Australian side or at the very least the initial squad of 40 from which the final 22 will be selected.

Injury Woes for Clarke

Collingwood’s Marty Clarke had his season brought to an abrupt and premature end during the week with the news that his ankle required surgery following an injury picked up in a reserve team clash recently. It is a disappointing conclusion to a season that started well for Clarke with a run of good form in the in the first half of the year but petered out following his demotion following the Round 10 clash with Brisbane.

It wasn’t a good week in general for the Magpies’ county Down men as Caolan Mooney was stretchered off early in the Pies’ reserve clash with North Ballarat at the weekend. He copped a heavy blow to the head in a contest in the first quarter and the game was stopped for a number of minutes as the medical team attended to him. Fortunately for Mooney it proved to be merely a mild concussion, however it means he was not available for selection for either Collingwood side this weekend.

Tuohy’s Scoring Run Continues

Zach Tuohy once again got his name on the scoresheet at the weekend, kicking another long range goal as his Carlton side went down to a disappointing defeat to the Western Bulldogs. Tuohy had a difficult outing chasing elusive Bulldogs forward Luke Dalhaus however he still managed to have an influence on the contest as he continues to establish himself as one of the few leaders in a rudderless Blues side. The Laois man will run out for his milestone 50th AFL game as the Blues take on in-form Richmond on Saturday afternoon.

As reported in this column a couple of weeks ago, Tuohy will be joined at Carlton by Louth rising star Ciaran Byrne, who today put pen to paper on a two year rookie contract with the Melbourne based club. Byrne again impressed the club’s recruiting team in his recent training stint down under, with the GM of Football Operations Andrew McKay saying “Ciaran’s a good athlete and a good running player, in keeping with all Gaelic footballers. He stands 6’2 or 6’3 in the old measurement and is quite an athletic player.”

Byrne will commence his pre-season with a trip to Arizona in early December for high altitude training.

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