The out-of-contract 28-year-old failed to engineer a last-minute move away from Carlton as the club was unsuccessful in their attempts to trade him to a rival.
AFL rules requiring clubs to cut a minimum of three players meant that the Blues, needing to de-list one more player — the retired Ryan Houlihan and Mark Austin were already de-listed — with both Ó hAilpín and Paul Bower in direct competition for the dreaded chop.
In the end, Carlton opted to retain the services of injury-prone defender Bower, which brings an end to Ó hAilpín’s Blues career that saw him make 80 appearances since 2005.
“This was a very tough decision for us,” Carlton chief executive Greg Swann said. “Setanta has been an important part of our club for eight years since he arrived in Australia from Ireland.
“The AFL rules required us to make one more change. Setanta and Paul Bower were the two players out of contract and, after a lengthy meeting this morning, we made this tough decision.
“We certainly wish Setanta the very best and I know his enthusiasm will be missed around the Carlton Football Club.”
During his time with Carlton, Ó hAilpín played in defence, ruck and attack, while he featured in eight games for the Blues this season.
Meanwhile, new Sydney Swans recruit Tommy Walsh is set to be used in a forward role in the new season, according to Swans coach John Longmire. The Swans are keen to try the 23-year-old Kerryman, who joined the Swans just minutes before the close of the trade window from St Kilda, in a key forward role.
“We’ll probably look at him a bit forward early in the pre-season,” Longmire said. “He’s played down the back for St Kilda reserves and done a good job down there but he played forward at the back end of the year and kicked six goals against the Collingwood reserves and had a real presence in the forward line. We’ll give him an opportunity to play in that role.”
Former Kerry footballer Walsh is delighted with the move to the Swans, and admits their record in developing international players, such as his former Kerry teammate Tadhg Kennelly, was one of the many attractions of his new club.
““Tadhg didn’t have to say anything to me about the Swans because I knew how successful he was here,” said Walsh.
“I’m rapt and I can’t wait to get there and start. As soon as I met John [Longmire] and heard what the Swans wanted me to do, I knew it was too good an opportunity to miss. I just want to play footy, that’s what I came over here for.”