CIARAN SHEEHAN has handed Cork football a massive boost by revealing that he has turned his back on an AFL career with Carlton, citing homesickness as a key factor in his decision to pursue a career in the GAA.
Sheehan, who was a member of the Cork training panel in the build-up to the recent All-Ireland final decider, spent four weeks during the summer in Melbourne with the AFL outfit but found it difficult to acclimatise during that period.
“It’s just myself and my mom at home, so homesickness was a really big factor. Being away from home was tough going during those four weeks. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the training, once you get into the fitness and conditioning, it was a great experience. I’d be very grateful to Carlton for the opportunity. They’d followed me for a while and the way they kept in touch, and allowed me to make up my mind, is something I’d really admire.”
Sheehan admits that being involved with the Cork senior squad this season helped sway him towards sticking with GAA. But despite having made up his mind soon after returning from Australia, he did not want to take the focus off Cork’s All-Ireland final preparations by making an announcement about his future.
“About two weeks after I came back, I had my mind made up that I was going to stay in Ireland. I got in touch with Carlton and was in contact with Setanta as well before the All-Ireland. But being involved with Cork before the All-Ireland, I didn’t want to affect the lads preparations. Being so young and being brought onto the Cork panel made my decision a lot easier. I’ll continue to do both hurling and football with club and college next year definitely. But being a part of the senior football panel this year, it’s likely that’ll it’ll be the football I’ll carry on doing next year for Cork.”
Meanwhile Collingwood will continue to search for young talent on these shores despite yesterday’s confirmation that a second Irish player has decided to leave the club for home in the space of a week. Down’s Martin Clarke had already opted to leave to pursue his studies and play for his club and county and it seems now that he was joined on the same plane home by Armagh international rookie Kevin Dyas.
“We’ll continue to have a network operating for us in Ireland and if they see players they consider to be prospects we’ll still be positive,” said Collingwood’s chief of football operations Geoff Walsh.
Dyas decision to quit was one reached by mutual consent with the ‘Pies’ and was made because of persistent injury troubles in Australia as well as an unshakeable bout of homesickness.
“It was not quite as unexpected as Marty,” said Walsh. “Kevin tore his hamstring off the bone late last season and had to go through a six-month recovery period. He got back pretty well to play most of this season with the VFL (reserve team), but more so it was the difficulty with his restricted training program.
“I think he had some doubt in his mind, as did our medical people, as to whether he would stand a full, unrestricted pre-season. Given where he’s at, we all agreed Kevin would have needed to do every possible thing over the summer to get himself into an elite level of fitness. There was some doubt whether his training would allow him to do that.”
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