International Sportsmen recruited to the AFL - Current

This page is an attempt to document the various international players in Australia who were brought to the game from another sport, i.e. they did not come from a grass roots Australian football program in their home country. This list is dominated by Irishmen with Gaelic football and hurling backgrounds.

Currently on AFL lists

Tadhg KennellyIrelandBorn 1981, the talented junior Gaelic footballer in County Kerry joined Sydney in 1999 and was elevated from a rookie to the senior list in 2001, seven times an emergency before debuting. The running half back became one of the Swans top players and was the first recruit from Ireland to win a premiership (2005). He also represented Ireland in International Rules. Although contracted for 2009 he retired during pre-season to return to Ireland to pursue his dream of replicating his late father's deeds as an All-Ireland Gaelic football winner with County Kerry, which remarkably he achieved in his very first year, allowing him to return to Sydney for the 2010 season. Kennelly was lauded by the Swans and widely rated as the equal of Jim Stynes as the greatest success at that stage in the "Irish experiment".
Setanta O'hAilpinIrelandAfter draft sanctions due to salary cap breaches Carlton looked for new ways to bring talent to the club. Setanta was born in Australia in 1983 to an Irish father and Fijian mother, but the family soon moved back to Ireland. The 199 cm key position defender/forward/ruckman has proven his athleticism since arriving from hurling in 2004 and in 2007 was beginning to establish himself at AFL level. He spent much of 2008 injured and in the 2009 pre-season was suspended after an incident with a team-mate in a club internal match, making sporting headlines across the country. It's widely thought that Setanta will need a very good year to remain in the AFL.
Pearce HanleyIrelandGaelic footballer from County Mayo, rookie listed by Brisbane Lions for 2008. Debuted in 2009 (temporary injury elevation), although injuries and opportunity restricted his number of matches. Elevated to senior list for 2010.
Brian DonnellyIrelandBorn July 1988, Adelaide's first rookie listed Irishman, signed in 2008 for the 2009 season. 193cm and a Gaelic footballer from County Louth. Commenced Aussie Rules with Glenelg in the SANFL during his time on Adelaide's list, mostly playing SANFL Reserves in his first season, before moving to Central Districts in 2010. Again he played Reserves before deciding to return to Ireland.
Mike PykeCanadaBorn in May 1984, Pyke is a former professional Rugby Union player, playing at a club-level for French side US Montauban and also representing his country. He achieved fame in 2007 when he ran the length of the field and scored a try against the All Blacks. He made the switch to Australian Football in August 2008, rookie-listed by Sydney for 2009 and elevated to senior (temporarily to cover for an injured player), several times named as an emergency before debuting with an impressive display in the ruck in Round 6. Returns to the rookie list in 2010.
Michael QuinnIrelandGaelic footballer from Killoe in County Longford, born 26 January 1990, rookie listed by Essendon in 2008. Debuted in Round 2 2009, the fastest ever rise of an Irish recruit.
Conor MeredithIreland181 cm Gaelic footballer from County Laois, born 8 May 1989, rookie listed by North Melbourne in 2008. Playing for VFL-affiliate Werribee in 2009. One of the players to come from player manager Ricky Nixon's training camps in Ireland.
Seamus "Shae" McNamaraUSACollingwood. Recruited in 2009 and listed at 204 cm, 104 kg, the American has a basketball and soccer background and approached the Magpies via a video demonstration of his ability. He was brought to Australia for a trial and impressed enough to be signed as an international rookie.

Niall McKeeverIrelandBorn 16 Feb 1989. 198 cm Gaelic footballer from County Antrim. Rookie listed by Brisbane at the end of 2009.
Zach TuohyIrelandBorn 10 Dec 1989. 187 cm Gaelic footballer from County Laois. Rookie listed by Carlton at the end of 2009.
Jamie O'ReillyIrelandBorn 28 April 1988. 184 cm Gaelic footballer from County Down. Rookie listed by Richmond at the end of 2009.
Tommy WalshIrelandBorn 26 Feb 1988. 195cm Gaelic footballer from County Kerry. Rookie listed by St Kilda at the end of 2009.
Chris McKaigueIrelandBorn 13 July 1989. 191 cm Gaelic footballer from County Derry. Rookie listed by Sydney at the end of 2009.

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