AFL ‘warning’ for Dublin quartet

FOUR Dublin footballers were allegedly informed that they would be dropped from Pat Gilroy’s panel for this weekend’s NFL tie against Mayo if they attended Ricky Nixon’s AFL trial camp in Meath yesterday.

Cian O’Sullivan, Paddy Andrews, Rory O’Carroll and James McCarthy were all invited to attend the camp in Gormanston College where four Aussie Rules clubs ran the rule over players such as Derry’s James Kielt and Roscommon’s Donie Shine.

Other notable attendees were Meath’s Brian Sheridan, Donegal’s Michael Murphy and Kieran Hughes from Monaghan.

“You can’t dictate people’s lives,” said Nixon of the development in Dublin yesterday. “The point being, I don’t know why he did that. The camp is one hundredth of what we’re doing. The guys are still going to get all the things: the skills videos, all the drills and everything else.

“If they’re good enough they’ll still make it so stopping a kid from coming has achieved nothing apart from, I reckon, put egg on his own face.”

Nixon will continue to pursue the Dublin quartet but he warned that developments like yesterday’s could persuade recruiters to revert to the situation some years back when players were approached and clubs and counties kept in the dark.

However, Nixon claimed he will not be returning down that road and added that he had been in touch with two inter-county managers this week to assure them that he would not bring any players to Australia during the GAA season.

“It’s Tommy Walsh revisited in some respects, as in Tommy played for a full year with one eye on one thing, which was the All-Ireland. When he won it the decision was made after that to pursue an AFL career. Nobody else is any different.”

Nixon and representatives from St Kilda, Richmond, Geelong and the Western Bulldogs have been in Ireland and have attended 11 games involving schools and universities, as well as a handful of hurling fixtures.

Such recruitment has not gone down well in some GAA circles. Dr Niall Moyna, the man responsible for DCU’s recent Sigerson Cup triumphs, criticised the Australian agent this week, claiming Nixon was out for his “pound of flesh”.

Moyna also accused Nixon of going behind the university’s back in recruiting players and Laois’ Conor Meredith, in particular, who was a first-year student at the Dublin northside college at the time he agreed to join North Melbourne.

In reply, Nixon claimed that he had been in contact with Moyna who replied with a “very angry email” and that he had then spent half a day with DCU’s GAA Academy Director Declan Brennan when Meredith’s situation was discussed at length.

“Declan advised me as to the best time for Conor to leave university. Conor is doing study in Australia. His parents have been over there for a month, they couldn’t be happier.

“If he wants to keep slinging mud, that it’s all about cash and money and everything else, well, the answer to that is pretty simple. It’s a pro sport.

“Of course it is (about the money). The rest is not worth talking about.”

Meanwhile, Nixon and St Kilda chief executive Michael Nettlewood are in agreement that the potential risks of bringing over some of the top AFL players for this year’s International Series far outweigh the positives.

Both men have pointed out that the AFL’s top players require a prolonged period away from football after their season comes to an end in September, although Nixon accepted that bringing over a “no-name team” would damage the series.

“And for the Gaelic players, I would be champing at the bit to play the AFL players to prove that you can beat them but Nick Riewoldt would be coming here over my dead body.”

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