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Begley's second shot

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THE FINAL selection utilised in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft turned out to be one of the most talked about – both before and after the day itself.

Earlier, the expectation was for St Kilda to use its number 83 selection on former Eagle Ben Cousins. But when the club board decided not to pursue the Brownlow Medallist, it seemed defender Nathan Carroll would be turned from Demon into Saint.

History shows that, in the end, St Kilda chose to recycle a player with a lower profile than either Cousins or Carroll: former Brisbane Lion Colm Begley.

The Irishman had been training with Collingwood since he was delisted by the Lions, but was pleasantly surprised to head to Moorabbin.

“I’m delighted, especially with a good club like St Kilda. I didn’t want to watch the draft because I was a bit nervous so I was waiting for a phone call,” he said.

“I was staying at a house with a few of the boys who were watching it on a laptop. I was staying upstairs and then heard them singing “Oh When the Saints” so I thought it should be good news.

“It is a great club and I get to stay in Melbourne which is a new experience for me and something I’m looking forward to. I get a second chance at footy which I really wanted.”

Begley played 29 games with the Brisbane Lions since debuting in 2006. He played eight games in 2008 before being surprisingly delisted by new coach Michael Voss. But despite the setback, he said he never seriously considered abandoning his AFL dream.

“When Brisbane told me I was delisted, I didn’t say ‘stuff it’ but I was pretty heartbroken," he said.

"I really enjoyed it up in Brisbane and have no hard feelings, but it was kind of a downer after three years.

“I settled after a few days, I spoke to my family and refocussed.”

The 22-year-old becomes the first Irish player to wear the red, white and black since Dermott McNicholl played three games, wearing no. 60 in 1990.

He said he is looking to improve in a game he admits he is still learning.

“I’m constantly improving and there’s still a massive gap to go, even with the reading of the game,” he said.

“Playing more games, you get more experience and get more confident with yourself. Even training with players like (Nick) Dal Santo and (Nick) Riewoldt, you learn so much from these players. I’m always looking to improve and this year if I can get a few games it will be a big improvement year for them and I can find a position for myself in this team.”