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Dublin: 4°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

Returning Stars: GAA players who came back from Oz

Ciaran Kilkenny is not the first Gaelic footballer to decide to call a halt to life in the AFL and return to Ireland.

CIARAN KILKENNY ANNOUNCED today that he is leaving AFL side Hawthorn to return home to Ireland.

The news is a major boost to Dublin football with the talented attacker now available to Jim Gavin’s side for the 2013 campaign.

Kilkenny departed for Australia last November but after just under two months he has opted to call a halt to his time in Melbourne.

He’s in good company in that regard.

Here’s 12 other GAA stars who have returned after stints Down Under.

Returning Stars: GAA players who came back from Oz
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  • Brendan Murphy (Carlow)

    Murphy was an extremely promising minor player who signed up with the Sydney Swans in November 2007. He spent two years with the club, only featuring for the club's reserve side, before returning home. The Rathvilly player has since become a leading light for his county.
  • Brendan Quigley (Laois)

    In the autumn of 2005, Quigley joined the Brisbane Lions along with teammate Colm Begley before homesickness saw him return after a couple of months. He was in talks at the end of 2007 with Carlton but opted not to join them and decided to stay with Laois.
  • Chrissy McKaigue (Derry)

    McKaigue came to prominence with the Derry minor team in 2007 and after being initially approached by Carlton, he joined the Sydney Swans in 2009. He was released by them at the end of 2011 and the current UUJ student lined out for Derry last year.
  • Ciaran Sheehan (Cork)

    The 21 year-old, who is currently studying in Cork IT, had a four-week trial with Carlton during the summer of 2009. But he turned down the offer of a contract to pursue a Gaelic football career, winning an All-Ireland senior medal the following year.
  • Colm Begley (Laois)

    Begley moved to Australia in 2006 where he joined the Brisbane Lions. He spent three years with the club, being named club 'Rookie of the Year' in 2007, but left at the end of 2008 after injury travails. He joined St Kilda in 2009 before returning home later that year.
  • John Heslin (Westmeath)

    Heslin joined up with the Richmond Tigers as a rookie in the 2012 pre-season draft. He only spent three months with the club before homesickness compelled him to return to Ireland. He now features for Westmeath and the UCD Sigerson Cup team.
  • Kevin Dyas (Armagh)

    In late 2007, Dyas joined Collingwood after being a senior panellist with Armagh. He stayed with the club until the end of 2009 when after injuries and homesickness had affected his progress, he returned home.
  • Kyle Coney (Tyrone)

    A 2008 All-Ireland minor medal winner in 2008, Coney joined the Sydney Swans later that year. He returned to Ireland for Christmas that year but in January 2009 opted not to return to Australia. Injuries have affected his subsequent career with Tyrone.
  • Martin Clarke (Down)

    Clarke signed for Collingwood in August 2006 and excellent for the club that he lined out for 46 times. In 2010 he returned to play for Down and won an Allstar as they reached the All-Ireland final. In October 2011, Clarke rejoined Collingwood.
  • Michael Quinn (Longford)

    Quinn signed as an international rookie for the Melbourne-based club Essendon in November 2008. He soon set the record for the quickest debut of a GAA player in the AFL and spent three years with the club. In October 2011, Quinn returned to Ireland and last year the current DCU student won a Division 3 league medal with Longford and a county senior medal with Emmett Óg Killoe.
  • Michael Shields (Cork)

    The St Finbarr's player joined Carlton in November 2007 on a two-year rookie contract. But he returned to Cork in the summer of 2008. Since then with Cork he has won an All-Ireland senior medal in 2010 as well as two Allstar awards.
  • Tadhg Kennelly (Kerry)

    One of the best-known GAA players to have featured in Australian Rules, Kennelly holds the record of being the only person to have an AFL Premiership medal (2005) and an All-Ireland senior football medal (2009). He signed a rookie contract with the Sydney Swans in 1999, going on to play 197 AFL games, and returned to Ireland for the 2009 All-Ireland winning season with Kerry. After just one year with Kerry, he rejoined the Sydney Swans before retiring after the 2011 campaign.

All pictures INPHO.

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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