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North Melbourne bring rising Armagh and Tipperary stars on trial

Armagh’s Rian O’Neill and Tipperary’s Jack Kennedy have caught the eye of the AFL strugglers.

 Rian O'Neill of Armagh
Rian O'Neill of Armagh

TWO OF THE country’s most promising young stars – Armagh’s Rian O’Neill and Tipperary’s Jack Kennedy – have jetted out for trials with Australian Rules Football giants North Melbourne.

O’Neill was captain of the St Colman’s (Newry) team that lost out to first-time winners St Mary’s, Magherafelt, in this year’s MacRory Cup final.

Rian O'Neill with Patrick O'Reilly Rian O'Neill of Armagh Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

He’s the younger brother of current Armagh senior Oisín, and the son of Crossmaglen Rangers senior team manager Gareth.

A nephew of 2002 All-Ireland winner Oisin McConville, O’Neill made the step up from the minor ranks to feature for Armagh’s U-21s this year – and has been tipped as a future senior player in the making.

Kennedy, meanwhile, has already sampled senior fare with Tipperary, and made an impressive full debut against Laois in this year’s Allianz League campaign.

A 2015 Munster senior club medallist with Clonmel Commercials, Kennedy made his senior championship bow against Cavan, and performed impressively at Kingspan Breffni Park earlier this month in front of watching North Melbourne scouts.

Jack Kennedy with Joe McElroy Kennedy in action against Armagh this month. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Kennedy, the son of former Tipperary All-Ireland SHC medallist, John, was black-carded against Armagh as the Premier County exited the football championship, and his loss was a major blow to the home side’s chances.

O’Neill and Kennedy have been on North Melbourne’s radar for some time – and now they have the chance to impress over a two-week period.

Kennedy featured for UCC in their Sigerson Cup campaign earlier this year and now has the chance to emulate the feats of fellow Tipperary man Colin O’Riordan, who’s contracted to the Sydney Swans.

Kennedy’s older brother is Colman, who scored a famous winning goal for the Tipperary minors against Dublin in the 2011 All-Ireland final.

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