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Leading Gaelic coach critical of AFL connection

“I have not been a fan of the engagement we have had with the AFL over many, many years now,” Harte told BBC Sport.

“I don’t think there are many other sports that people would mature players to a high level and then say, ‘Here you are, go and have them for a different sport’. It doesn’t really happen anywhere else.”

Harte also said there were people within the GAA who were effectively working as agents for AFL clubs to identify future prospects, describing the situation as very sad.

However, former Collingwood and Down player Marty Clarke – who lives in Ireland – rejected such an accusation from Harte describing his view as “comical” when interviewed on Radio Ulster.

Clarke said AFL clubs did their own work to determine whether a player was a suitable candidate to compete in the AFL and recruiting players from Ireland remained a high risk strategy.


There are 17  Irish players on AFL lists with Essendon’s Conor McKenna hailing from the same county as McShane. McKenna played a game for his local club when in Ireland during his off-season break.

The GAA remains concerned about the impact an unsuccessful stint in the AFL has for young GAA footballers. They launched a research project last year to determine the factors which impacted on the potential for young Irish footballers to be successful in the AFL and the obstacles they faced if they returned to Ireland in resuming a Gaelic football career.

Adelaide confirmed on Monday that McShane would train with the Crows in January.

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