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Euro Combine: Irish talls impress, new 20m record

Ryan Davidson in Dublin  December 3, 2017 9:19 AM

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Mark Keane impressed during match simulation. Picture: Bryan Keane

AFL RECRUITERS have been impressed by several tall prospects on show at the European Combine in Dublin.

Twenty-three of Ireland's best underage Gaelic footballers converged on University College to be put through their paces by former Collingwood defender and AFL Europe specialist coach Marty Clarke and AFL international talent manager Kevin Sheehan. 

Former Brisbane Lions and St Kilda defender Colm Begley was casting his eye over the talent as a scout for Geelong, while Essendon also had a recruiter in attendance.

Clarke, who played 73 games for the Magpies, said he was impressed with how his young countrymen adapted to a foreign game over two days off testing.

"Every year the standard seems to be getting higher and higher," Clarke told AFL.com.au.

"The testing was first class and some of the ball use in that match situation was very good.

"There were some really good taller lads who were very mobile, and in some ways in the Jimmy Stynes mould.

"There has been a shift in (recruiting focus) by getting big and mobile guys."

Marty Clarke addressing the prospects. Picture: Bryan Keane
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County Cork's Mark Keane should be on the radar of AFL clubs, with the 193cm prospect excelling in match simulation with outstanding game sense, kicking and contested marking.

Peadar Bryne also caught the eye with the 199cm Dubliner recording an impressive 2.92 in the 20m sprint, and then backing that up with strong showing in the gruelling Yo-Yo test.

Derry's Anton Tohill is no stranger to Australian Rules Football, with his father Anthony Tohill playing under 19s and reserves with Melbourne in the 1980s.

Standing at 199cm, the 17-year-old bounced back from several heavy collisions to display his eye-catching athleticism and leadership qualities.

Tohill says his father's guidance and support has been important as he explores whether a professional career in Australia is right for him.

"Dad has been fabulous, he understands it's a big opportunity for me," Tohill told AFL.com.au.

"He went through all this with Melbourne back in the day, so he's been giving me advice on how to be a professional on and off the pitch.

"He says be aggressive, and when you get knocked down, just get up straight back up.

"'Never give up' is his message to me."

An all-time AFL Combine record tumbled on day one of testing with Dublin's James Madden breaking former Gold Coast midfielder Joel Wilkinson's mark of 2.75 in the 20m sprint with a lightening time of 2.69.

The 185cm prospect, who hails from Ballyboden - the same GAA club as Stynes - also shone in agility testing, posting a very impressive time of 7.76.

James Madden broke the all-time Combine record for 20m sprint. Picture: Bryan Keane

Oisin McWilliams is another who looks like he could make the switch to the oval ball game, with the Derry product possessing pace, endurance, sound skills and a cool head in traffic.

Three of the Irish hopefuls will be invited to attend the AFL Academy camp at the IMG Academy in Florida next month to train alongside Australia's elite underage talent.