Mayo minor All-Ireland-winning captain Stephen Coen was among 22 young GAA players at the AFL Europe Combine in Dublin City University on Saturday, where Kennelly dubbed the previous method of recruiting players as “filthy”.
“I just really wanted to centralise the whole thing. When I was away and over there and I heard clubs doing things behind backs and it was all back door,” he said.
“I just didn’t like the process when it happened and I met with the GAA and the AFL together and I said, ‘look I really want to centralise this’.”
However, the modern version does not mean an exodus of Ireland’s top GAA prospects is on the cards.
“People in Ireland think that there’s a big drain of players going over. There’s a bigger drain of them coming back and that’s what people in Ireland don’t understand.
“It’s very hard to [play in the AFL]. I’ve explained that to the players. If you’re not committed here and you’re just here to arrive for a couple of days, get up and leave because it’s a bloody hard thing to do.”
Ronan Daly, Niall Scully and Padraig Lucey attended a previous combine and Kennelly says interest from AFL sides was the reason for their call-back.
The 22 players on show at the AFL combine throughout the weekend were as follows: Shehroz Akram (Mayo), Conor McKenna (Tyrone), Conor McCarthy (Monaghan), Conor Jordan (Kerry), Niall Scully (Dublin), Ronan Daly (Roscommon), Ethan O’Donoghue (Kildare), Danny Owens (Tipperary), Stephen Coen (Mayo), Ciaron O’Hanlon (Armagh), Padraig McGirr (Tyrone), Rory Feely (Kildare), Peter Cooke (Galway), Israel Ilunga (Westmeath), Tom Devine (Waterford), Colin O’Riordan (Tipperary), Stephen Quirke (Tipperary), Kieran Murphy (Kerry), Cormac Curran (Waterford), Evan O’Carroll (Laois), Luke Flynn (Kildare), Padraig Lucey (Kerry).