Stynes mourns old pal Wight

TRIBUTES have poured in for AFL pioneer Sean Wight, who has passed away at the age of 47 after a short battle with lung cancer.

The former Listowel Emmets man, who played with Kerry in the 1982 All-Ireland minor football final, was diagnosed in January and lost his brave fight in Melbourne’s Freemasons Hospital yesterday.

He was the first player recruited directly from Ireland by an AFL (then VFL) club when Melbourne Demons came calling 29 years ago and became a long-time clubmate of Jim Stynes, who has had his own battle with cancer in the past two years.

When Zach Tuohy and Setanta Ó hAilpín played together for Carlton four weeks ago, they were the first Irish pair to do so since Wight and Stynes in 1995. Pearce Hanley and Niall McKeever repeated the feat last weekend for Brisbane Lions. “He’s probably the most competitive and probably the greatest athlete I’ve played footy with,” Stynes said yesterday. “He could’ve been anything, but he chose footy. He could’ve been a professional soccer player or he could’ve been a rugby player. There are so many sports that he was just an all-round athlete at. He played handicap golf towards the end.

“He could just do everything. He did a knee when he was 19. In those days, when he did a knee, it was tough to get back from and most players never played again.

“But he just kept putting himself out there and he accomplished great things despite his physical incapability.”

Though born in Glasgow, Wight quickly took to Gaelic football when his family moved to Listowel. He responded to a newspaper ad offering opportunities to play VFL.

While Paul Earley became the first player to make the transition from GAA to top level Aussie Rules when playing for Melbourne in 1984, Wight was given his opportunity the following year and went on to make 150 appearances for the Demons over the next 10 years.

Wight was inducted into Melbourne’s Hall of Fame three years ago, while he was also named as one of the 150 heroes of the club during its 150th anniversary celebrations that year.

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