Kildare football manager Cian O’Neill has urged supporters to cut Paddy Brophy some slack and give him the necessary time to readjust to life as a Gaelic footballer again.
Brophy confirmed last week that he was quitting Australian Rules side West Coast Eagles “for personal reasons, including homesickness”.
The former Kildare attacker was in his third season at the Perth club but had yet to make a first team breakthrough and said he wished to continue his studies in Ireland and rejoin the Kildare squad. It is a major boost to Kildare as the Celbridge man will be expected to feature in their upcoming Championship campaign which begins against Laois or Longford on June 3/4.
Brophy, who started three of Kildare’s Championship games in 2014 before leaving for Australia, is the third Kildare player to return from Down Under following stints for Daniel Flynn and Sean Hurley there.
“We’ve been in touch with him the last week or so and it’s an exciting prospect to have Paddy home,” said O’Neill. “Everyone that’s been involved with him will tell you that he’s a phenomenal guy, first and foremost, a phenomenal trainer and a phenomenal player and he has no doubt developed great experience and great habits over the last couple of years, two-and-a-half years in Australia.
“But I would urge fans and the media just to exercise a bit of restraint because we need to look at this on a human level.
“He’s coming home after two-and-a-half years on the other side of the world, different culture, different responsibilities. He’s got family to think of, work or college, all these things going through his mind.
“Football is there as well and that’s brilliant, and he is keen to get back playing, but I think on a humanistic level I need to make sure that Paddy has all the support from everyone in Kildare GAA, the Kildare senior football team, and the GPA.
“Everyone needs to be there for him and then let’s see where the football is because it’s not as easy as clicking your fingers and expecting it to happen.
“You’ve seen it in the past where there’s an expectation and then for whatever reason, be it injury, work or whatever, that expectation isn’t reached and all of a sudden it’s viewed differently.
“That can’t be the case for Paddy, he’s 23 years of age, his whole life is ahead of him. I’m excited, the team are excited, when he comes back he’ll be a massive addition but I don’t want to get too focused on a short-term plan.
“Let’s just see what works best for Paddy and when we’ve a good conversation with him we’ll see where we go from there.”
Meanwhile, Meath captain Graham Reilly has confirmed that he will be fit for the Royals’ Championship opener despite suffering a severe knee wound that required several stitches.
The experienced forward and AIB All-Ireland club intermediate finalist with St Colmcilles picked up the injury during a recent challenge match against Mayo.
“Whatever way I landed, I don’t know if I landed on a rock or something, it just opened up my knee and I have a three-inch gash in my knee,” said Reilly. “I’ve about eight or nine stitches in at the moment but I was back running yesterday (Tuesday). So hopefully the stitches will be out next Wednesday and then it’ll be back full throttle. It’s only a two- or three-week injury.”
Meath are due to open their Leinster championship account against Louth or Wicklow on the first weekend of June.
“I should be fine,” said Reilly. “It will be just running with no ball for a while and then get back hopefully playing full contact and probably club championship in the next three weeks.”
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