HOMESICK Carlton defender Ciaran Byrne has reportedly suffered a serious leg injury playing Gaelic Football in his native Ireland, just days after telling the Blues he would not return to the club in 2019.
The Blues released a statement on Monday afternoon, confirming both Byrne and his Irish teammate Cillian McDaid had decided to end their AFL careers.
Byrne was contracted for 2019 but at the very least, his start to next season may have been compromised after he was injured in a Gaelic football game at the weekend.
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What an experience it was. A massive thank you to the Carlton and northern blues football club for the last 6 years. I really enjoyed my time albeit riddled with injuries. I got to play an amazing game with an amazing football club and I’ll be forever grateful for that. I’ve made some lifelong friends along the way and Carlton will always be family to me. For now my heart is in Ireland and I couldn’t spend any more time away from family, friends and the GAA. Unfortunately my GAA career will be put on hold with a small ankle hiccup but my beloved club St Mochtas are champions Thanks again BLUEBAGGERS.
Representing his home club St. Mochta's in their Intermediate Football Final victory, the 23-year-old was carried from the ground on stretcher, with a local radio station reporting he was taken to hospital in an ambulance.
Byrne was present in a team photo before the game, but was absent from a photo of the St Mochta's team celebrating post-match.
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The County Louth product had asked Carlton for its permission to play while holidaying back in the Emerald Isle, with the Blues giving the him their blessing to feature in his first Gaelic games in five years.
The promising young Blue had suffered several injury setbacks during his AFL career, with a knee reconstruction and hamstring troubles limiting the defensive playmaker to just 22 games in five seasons at Ikon Park.
Byrne, who has battled homesickness in the past, said recently he was deciding whether to remain in Ireland despite having one season to run on his contract at the Blues.
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"They want me back and they've been on the phone to me most days since I've come back to Ireland," Byrne told Irish newspaper The Dundalk Democrat.
"I'm still tossing up whether I'm going to go back full-time.
"There are a lot of rumours going around the place, it's all over Twitter. I've another year left on my contract, but I'm going through a process and weighing up my options over whether AFL is still completely for me.
"I've loved my time out there, I've been there for five years, but I've come home at the right time now. The Mochta's are flying, there is talk of the new Louth stadium and Louth have to announce a new manager.
In a statement, Carlton thanked both Byrne and McDaid for their contributions to the club.