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Irish star 'not on the radar' after spurning AFL

David Clifford celebrates Kerry's All-Ireland minor championship. Picture: Getty Images - AFL,Martin Clarke,Collingwood Magpies,International Rules
David Clifford celebrates Kerry's All-Ireland minor championship. Picture: Getty Images

BOOM Irish youngster David Clifford appears to have fallen off the radar of AFL clubs after pledging his allegiance to Gaelic football.

Club recruiters based in Ireland understand GAA powerhouse Kerry have convinced Clifford his future lies in the 'Kingdom', and have set up the 18-year-old with a good job while he completes his university studies.

AFL Europe specialist coach Marty Clarke also believes the prodigy has spurned overtures from Australia, and is hell bent on helping Kerry return to the top of Gaelic football at the expense of bitter rival Dublin.

However, the former Collingwood defender believes Clifford's "unheard of performances" at junior level will see AFL clubs monitoring his progress from afar.

"I think Kerry have been fairly swift in trying to keep David Clifford because they're hurting by losing to Dublin (in the All-Ireland final), and he could be a key to them turning the tables," Clarke told AFL.com.au.

"His chance (in Australia) may come again if he has another good year or two, but for now he's not on the radar."

Even if Clifford does eventually decide he wants to try his luck Down Under, Clarke isn't sure his skillset would allow him to make the grade.

Standing at 190cm, Clifford has an intoxicating mix of power and class that could be suited to a midfield role in the AFL.

"Without knowing him too well, I don't think Australian Rules football would be overly suited to his style of play," Clarke said.

"That's not to say he couldn't make it, he's a superb athlete and a great footballer. 

"I haven't spoken to David Clifford at all, but I've admired his performances for his college and for Kerry minors."

Sydney Swans premiership star Tadhg Kennelly has come under fire recently from sections of his home county Kerry for giving youngsters the opportunity to follow in his footsteps, with 'Kingdom' great Tomas O'Se telling the Irish Independent he "hates" what Kennelly was doing in his former role as an international talent co-ordinator with the AFL.

O'Se feared Clifford would be inspired by Kerryman Mark O'Connor's debut with Geelong this year in just his first season in Australia.

While Kerry has been busy trying to fend off recruiting raids, it appears AFL clubs could now turn their attention to GAA champions Dublin, with two highly rated juniors impressing at the European Combine in Dublin on the weekend.

Standing at 199cm, ruck prospect Peadar Bryne caught the eye, with the 17-year-old recording an impressive 2.92 in the 20m sprint, and then backing that up with strong showing in the gruelling yo-yo test.

James Madden should also be of interest after the powerful midfielder smashed the all-time AFL Combine record in the 20m sprint with a lightning 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.

There will be 13 Irishman on AFL lists in 2018 after Carlton signed Galway's Cillian McDaid on a two-year international rookie deal last month.