Louth's Byrne signs for Aussie Rules side

Louth youngster Ciaran Byrne has put pen to paper on a two-year international rookie contract with Australian Rules club Carlton.

Louth's Byrne signs for Aussie Rules side

Louth youngster Ciaran Byrne has put pen to paper on a two-year international rookie contract with Australian Rules club Carlton.

Byrne underwent a two-week trial with the Blues recently having initially caught the attention of the Melbourne club's scouts at a recruitment camp in Limerick two years ago.

Now 18, the Dundalk teenager had made huge strides with the Louth senior footballers this season.

He enjoyed a successful Championship debut at corner forward against Laois in May and had subsequent outings against Wexford, Antrim and Kildare, scoring 1-2 and 0-5 respectively in the latter two games.

But Byrne has taken the decision to switch codes and pursue a career as a professional sportsman.

He will be joining fellow Irishman Zach Tuohy at Carlton, the former Laois minor ace who has made a notable transition from Gaelic football to Aussie Rules and can act as a mentor to the Blues' latest Irish recruit.

Drafted as a rookie in 2010, Tuohy is set to play his 50th senior game for Carlton this weekend in the AFL Premiership. He has scored 11 goals for the Blues this season, including six in his last four outings.

Tuohy is looking forward to helping Byrne anyway he can, telling the club's website: "I've always said I'll always encourage any Irish player to come over and give it a go.

"It's not a holiday, it is hard work, you need to be determined and it has to be what you want to do.

"I always liked the idea of having another Irish team-mate and hopefully I can help Ciaran out the same way Setanta (Ó hAilpín) helped me out early on.

"Ciaran's got a lot of talent. He's got a lot of attributes that would really suit AFL. He seemed to enjoy his time here and I'm very confident he'll come out, be here for a long time and become a very good player."

Carlton's general manager of football operations Andrew McKay noted: "Ciaran's a good athlete and a good running player, in keeping with all Gaelic footballers. He stands 6ft 2in or 6ft 3in in the old measurement and is quite an athletic player.

"It's all well and good to kick and catch, but you also need to understand where the ball's going to go and to read the play a bit...and he's never played the game before, so it's going to take some time.

"It is the chance of a lifetime (for him), particularly when you consider the economic climate in Ireland at the moment, and any reservation he had was put to bed when he recently spent two weeks here with the boys."

Byrne is in the running to play for Ireland in October's International Rules series against Australia with the Tests taking place at Cavan's Breffni Park and Croke Park in Dublin.

In December he will link up with his new Carlton team-mates at a high-altitude training camp in Arizona before spending Christmas at home with his family in Louth.

The following month, he will be back in Melbourne for pre-season training.

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