Daragh Ó Conchúir
North Melbourne have confirmed the signature of Sligo teenager, Red Óg Murphy on a Category B rookie contract, bringing the number of players signed by AFL clubs in the off-season to seven.
Murphy joins Derry duo Anton Tohill (Collingwood) and Callum Brown (GWS), Cork’s Mark Keane (Collingwood), Dublin’s James Madden (Brisbane) and Kerry’s Stefan Okunbor (Geelong) as the GAA newbies that will decamp to Australia in the coming weeks to begin pre-season training.
An underage star who scored 11 points in Sligo’s All-Ireland U20 quarter-final defeat by a Derry side that included Tohill and Brown earlier this year, Murphy impressed on trial with the Arden Street outfit in August.
While news of the development broke prior to the weekend, the Roos coaching staff wanted to hold off on announcing it until after Murphy had played for Curry in the Sligo intermediate final replay, which they lost by three points to Shamrock Gaels on Saturday.
“Red was invited to Arden Street and we were really happy with his ability and character” said North’s general manager of football, Cameron Joyce.
“Our recruiters, and in particular our Pro Scout Nick Byrne, have stayed in touch with him and his family over the past few months and we are really happy to have signed him as a Category B rookie on our list.”
Murphy’s athletic ability and his ball skills stood out while on trial.
The left-footed attacking player developed a reputation for his vision and finishing, skills that may well see him deployed initially at least, in a counter-attacking half-back role.
With Cian Hanley (Mayo/Brisbane), Ray Connellan (Westmeath/St Kilda), Ciarán Byrne (Louth/Carlton) and Cillian McDaid (Galway/Carlton) either released or calling time on their AFL adventures voluntarily, the GAA contingent Down Under is now at 13.
In all, 24 of the 51 GAA players recruited prior to the current spate of signatures had played an AFL game. Of those, only eight have lined out more than 50 times.
Elsewhere, Carlow senior, Jordan Morrissey is reported to be in talks with two clubs.
Meanwhile, the next crop of hopefuls undertook some kicking practice with the Sherrin oval ball in UCD on Friday.