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'The club wants to go places and I'm in the same boat' - The AFL's latest Irish import

Galway’s Cillian McDaid has signed for Melbourne side Carlton.

Cillian McDaid (file pic).
Cillian McDaid (file pic).
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

GALWAY U21 FOOTBALL star Cillian McDaid has officially put pen to paper and signed for AFL side Carlton.

The 20-year-old links up with the Melbourne-based club on a two-year deal as an international rookie.

There had been plenty of talk of the move over the last few weeks, but Carlton today confirmed the news on their official website.

“Pretty nervous, really excited as well” McDaid told the website of his new venture, where he’ll join Louth native Ciaran Byrne at the club.

“There’s a great programme here and the club is looking after me so far. I know a few Irish lads in other clubs around Melbourne and obviously Ciaran is here as well so it’s not too bad so far.

“We’ve been through this, when you’re nervous and you miss home and all that sort of stuff, so I’m actually moving in with him today until Christmas. Hopefully he’ll be able to give me a bit of advice along the way.”

McDaid, who played his club football at home with Monivea-Abbey and has hurled in the past with Craughwell, spoke of how he’s watched the game over the past few years and how he feels he can bolster Carlton:

“I’ve had the subscription online for the last two years so I’ve been watching a little bit and picking up little bits as I’ve gone along,” he continued.

“I’m good off both feet and I just like to take the game on. I suppose a half-back is where a lot of Irish players start off so maybe around there.

“There’s a little bit more physicality in AFL which is obviously pretty nice, and just the challenge of new skills. The tackling is a bit different and the shape of the ball is different but the main skills — catching, kicking and all that are still the same.

“I know it’s a very ambitious club. It’s a very young team as well. I know since Brendan’s come in there’s been a lot of changes, which is probably refreshing. I know the club wants to go places and I’m in the same boat so hopefully it will all work out.”

McDaid was central on the Galway team that won the Connacht U21 title earlier this year – he hit three points from play on the night and was named Man of the Match — and he added 1-1 from half-back as the Tribesmen were beaten by Dublin in the All-Ireland decider.

He also came off the bench for the Galway seniors in this summer’s championship meetings with Donegal and Kerry, so this will come as a major blow to the county.

“We’re very pleased Cillian has agreed to join Carlton, and we think he is an exciting young prospect for our club,”  GM List Management and Strategy Stephen Silvagni added.

“We have followed Cillian’s progress closely throughout the year and he uses the ball incredibly well. He is a determined young man of terrific character and we feel he will be a good cultural fit for our playing group too.

“Cillian is an example of the exciting young talent coming out of Ireland at the moment and has studied our game thoroughly over the past few years.

“We see him as an attacking defender, but we’re excited by the versatility he has shown and we look forward to seeing what he can offer.”

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