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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 24 March, 2018

Cork All-Ireland winner Sheehan to stay in Melbourne and take on new Aussie Rules role

The 27-year-old has ended speculation about a possible return to GAA.

2010 ALL-IRELAND winner Ciaran Sheehan is to return to Australia next week as he is to take up a role working with the AFL Players’ Association, ending speculation about a possible return to GAA that had developed since he was released by Carlton Blues last October.

Ciaran Sheehan Ciaran Sheehan won an All-Ireland senior football medal with Cork in 2010. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

After returning home to Cork for Christmas, the 27-year-old is flying back to live in Melbourne for another year.

He had been weighing up his options since his AFL professional career was ended when Carlton opted not to renew his contract.

Sheehan has now confirmed that he is set to stay on in Melbourne, his home since late 2013, with his fiancée Amy who he will marry next December.

In addition to taking on the new position with the AFL group that caters for players, he has signed on to play Australian Rules with Melbourne-based Avondale Heights in 2018 with the club plying their trade in the Essendon District Football League.

DSS_9499 Ciaran Sheehan in action for Northern Blues. Source: Dave Savell

“I’m after applying for a job with the AFL Players’ Association and it’s looking likely that’ll be my position for the year ahead,” Sheehan told The42.

“It’s an alumni programme co-ordinator, so basically it will involve working with past players and basically outlining the support services that the AFL PA gives to these past players. It’s a player welfare based role.

“A big factor is that Amy had progressed in her career. She had sacrificed a lot to come out with me originally. Now she’s in a really good position career wise.

“You have to think about the two of us rather than getting selfish and me coming back home to play GAA. It’s a decision for the two of us.

“I’m pretty excited about the move back and getting to experience the city from a different view. We both love the country and the lifestyle.”

Ciaran Sheehan Ciaran Sheehan's last game for Cork was the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Sheehan endured a frustrating time with injuries during his four seasons with AFL side Carlton. He made six AFL appearances, playing more frequently for Victorian Football League side Northern Blues, but was hampered by a luckless run that saw him undergo six operations since the start of 2015 to correct injury problems.

More recently he lined out for Ireland in the second test of the International Rules Series against Australia in Perth, having previously featured for his country in 2013 when his performances caught the attention of Carlton.

An All-Ireland U21 winner in 2009 and an All-Ireland senior victor in 2010, he has left the door open for a potential retuun to Cork colours in future.

Ciaran Sheehan Ciaran Sheehan helped Cork defeat Down in the 2010 All-Ireland football final. Source: Cathal Noonan

“I wouldn’t be ruling out anything GAA wise down the road. I’m just going to see how this year goes in 2018 on and off the pitch. Then we’ll see after that and figure out what we’re going to do.

“I don’t regret anything from my experience in Australia and deciding to move out there. I’d a lot of injuries alright but I’d some great experiences and got to meet so many great people. There’s been plenty ups and downs but I learned so much from it.”

Sheehan is looking forward to continuing to play Australian Rules in what will be a less pressurised environment. The link with his new club originated from Dennis Armfield, the former Carlton player who retired last August from his AFL playing days and signed on in October as an assistant coach with Avondale Heights.

“It’s going to be good to get stuck into it. They train Tuesday and Thursday nights, then have a game at weekends. The players work their jobs during the day and come training in the evening. It’s very much like the GAA in that way.

“It’s a bit of a weight off the shoulders, I can enjoy life in a different way. Your weekends aren’t completely taken up. Every game is fixed for two o’clock on a Saturday, so it’s a set calendar. We’re starting the 7th of April with our first game until the end of August.

“It’ll be something different and interesting to do.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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