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Carlton's Louth star set for long-awaited return to action from cruciate injury

Ciaran Byrne will join Cork’s Ciaran Sheehan in the Northern Blues’ line-up this weekend.

Ciaran Byrne.
Ciaran Byrne.

LOUTH’S CIARAN BYRNE will make his long-awaited return to competitive action in Aussie Rules this weekend after spending the past 11 months out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The former St Mochta’s clubman is expected to line out alongside Corkonian Ciaran Sheehan for the Northern Blues, Carlton’s affiliate team in the Victorian Football League, against Coburg this weekend.

The 22-year-old did the damage to his right knee in an AFL game against Collingwood last July after enjoying an extended spell in the team which saw him catch the eye in the Carlton half-back line.

Byrne has had a couple of serious injuries since making the move Down Under in 2013, which have restricted him to just 12 first-grade games, but he is highly rated by his employers.

Last weekend was an excellent one for a number of Irish players at AFL level with Geelong’s Zach Tuohy and Pearce Hanley of the Gold Coast Suns earning inclusion in the AFL team of the week.

Laois’s Tuohy has made a flying start to his career at Geelong, racking up impressive possession figures and featuring in all 11 AFL games this season to date, putting him in the frame for All-Australian honours, the sport’s All-Star equivalent.

Tuohy was one of the third-placed Cats’ most effective players in their 94-74 victory against the second-placed Adelaide Crows on Friday, racking up 27 disposals from the half-back line.

Hanley was similarly effective for the Gold Coast in their 80-77 win against the West Coast Eagles, getting on the ball 31 times in midfield in what was just his third game for the Suns due to personal and injury issues.

Tyrone’s Conor McKenna was on the losing side for Essendon over the weekend but further enhanced his reputation in the loss to the league-leading GWS Giants, getting on the ball 18 times and kicking a goal in their 117-101 defeat.

McKenna has now played six games on the bounce for the Bombers, and 21 in total.

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