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'I relished every moment of it' - Winning debut for Cats hurler Joyce in the AFL

What a rise it’s been as the 21-year-old played his part in St Kilda’s win over Melbourne.

IT WAS A winning debut for Kilkenny All-Ireland winning minor hurling captain Darragh Joyce in the AFL, as his St Kilda side beat Melbourne in their Round 15 tie at the MCG.

Joyce’s Saints outfit are celebrating back-to-back wins following an 11-week winless stretch, and doing so in style.

Melbourne started the stronger of the sides but St Kildas soon struck back and powered on from there. It came down to the wire in the end with a late onslaught from the Demons but they held on to run out two-point winners in a 36-goal shootout.

The 18.11 (119) to 18.9 (117) win comes as just their third of the season, but one 21-year-old Joyce will be more than delighted to have played a part in.

“I relished every moment of it,” the Kilkenny man told SEN 1116 afterwards, while there was no shortage of footage appearing of him on St Kilda’s social media accounts.

The defender was surprised by his teammates in the dressing rooms after:

Before today’s AFL bow, Joyce had been in action for St Kilda’s reserve team Sandringham in the Victorian Football League.

He moved to Australia in October 2016 after first harbouring interest from the Melbourne-based team at the 2015 AFL Draft Combine.

The Rower-Inistioge club man skippered the Cats to All-Ireland minor hurling glory in 2014, and interestingly hadn’t played Gaelic football at club level before catching the eye of AFL scouts in action with his school.

A winning debut in the AFL well and truly marks an incredible rise for Joyce — a younger brother of four-time senior All-Ireland winner Kieran, who retired from inter-county hurling last October.

He tweeted his well wishes to his younger brother after the game, adding the news of a birth in the family.

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Emma Duffy

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