Down's Marty Clarke and Caolan Mooney are leaving the AFL and returning to Ireland

It’s good news for the Mourne County as Collingwood have confirmed the moves.

Marty Clarke won an Allstar award for Down in 2010.
Marty Clarke won an Allstar award for Down in 2010.
Image: Presseye/Mark Pearce/INPHO

AFL SIDE COLLINGWOOD have confirmed that Down duo Marty Clarke and Caolan Mooney are leaving Australia Rules to return to Ireland.

The club’s official website confirmed today that the departure of Clarke and Mooney are amongst the changes to their senior and rookie lists as they prepare for the upcoming trade and draft periods.

26 year-old Clarke played 73 games for Collingwood since his debut in 2007. He returned to Ireland in 2009 and was a key player as Down reached the 2010 All-Ireland final where they suffered defeat to Cork.

Clarke won an Allstar for his exploits in 2010 before returning to Collingwood in 2012. He played 27 matches across the next three years but has been hampered by form and injuries this year.

21 year-old Mooney was a brilliant colleges Gaelic footballer having steered St Colman’s (Newry) to the Hogan Cup titles in 2010 and 2011. He then moved to join the Melbourne-based club late 2011.

He made four appearances in 2012 in his first season and played two games in 2013 but did not feature this year.

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“Marty played some excellent football over his time and he can be proud of making the transition from Gaelic football to Australian Rules. At his best, he gave the side real zip and punch,” Collingwood director of football, Rodney Eade, said.

“He was a very popular figure and we wish him well, as we do Caolan and Peter, who gave us all that they had in their time at the Westpac Centre.”

The return of An Ríocht club man Clarke and Rostrevor player Mooney is a huge boost to the Down footballers as they will be potentially involved for the 2015 season. Down are currently without a manager following the departure of James McCartan.

Caolan Mooney in action for the Down footballers in a qualifier against Clare in 2011 Source: James Crombie

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Fintan O'Toole

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