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Tommy Walsh's in good company - here's 16 GAA players who have returned from the AFL

Begley, Shields, Kilkenny, Quigley, Dyas and Clarke are some of those who have come back to play GAA.

TOMMY WALSH ANNOUNCED today that he is leaving AFL side Sydney Swans to return home to Ireland.

The news is a major boost to Kerry football with the All-Ireland winner now available to the Kingdom for the 2015 campaign.

He’s not the first GAA star to call a halt to his time Down Under.

Here’s x other GAA stars who have returned from Australia.

1. 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 but missed part of this season due to work commitments with the Army.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

2. 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. This year he lined out for New York but has since come back to Laois.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

3. 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 Slaughtneil club man has lined out for Derry for the last few years.

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

4. Ciaran Sheehan (Cork)

The 23 year-old 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. Last November it was confirmed that he would be returning to the AFL to play for Carlton and he made his debut for them last August.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

5. 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.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

6. 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.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

7. 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. This summer he played a key role as Armagh reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

8. Kyle Coney (Tyrone)

A 2008 All-Ireland minor medal winner, 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 yet he did line out this season.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

9. Marty 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 but it recently emerged that he is returning home to Down again.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

10. 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 in 2012, the current DCU student won a Division 3 league medal with Longford and a county senior medal with Emmett Óg Killoe.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

11. 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.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

12. 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.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

13. Caolan Mooney (Down)

The Rostrevor player was a colleges star at Hogan Cup level with St Colman’s (Newry). In 2011, he also spent time with the Down senior squad before then joining Collingwood for the 2012 season. It recently emerged that he had been delisted by Collingwood and would be returning home to Ireland.

Source: James Crombie

14. Niall McKeever (Antrim)

McKeever played for the Antrim seniors when they reached the 2009 Ulster football final before then joining the Brisbane Lions. He spent time with the AFL club from 2010 to 2013 but returned to Ireland and played for Antrim this season.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

15. Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin)

A 2011 All-Ireland minor finalist and a 2012 All-Ireland U21 winner, Kilkenny joined AFL side Hawthorn in September 2012. But he returned home four months later and helped Dublin claim the Sam Maguire in September 2013 against Mayo.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

16. Jamie O’Reilly (Down)

A member of the Down U21 side who lost the 2009 All-Ireland final to Cork, O’Reilly went to Australia to play for Richmond in 2010 and 2011. He has since returned home.

Source: Presseye/Russell Pritchar/INPHO

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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