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Roos set to offer Irishman Murphy a rookie deal

Red Óg Murphy in action. Picture: @red_og_murphy Instagram - AFL,North Melbourne Kangaroos
Red Óg Murphy in action. Picture: @red_og_murphy Instagram

THE AFL is set to field a record number of Irishmen in the competition next year, with North Melbourne preparing to table an offer to Gaelic footballer Red Óg Murphy.

Murphy and countryman Oisín McWilliams spent a week trialling at Arden St in August and AFL.com.au understands the Roos have settled on the former.

The news follows a flurry of AFL activity in the Irish space this year.

Ireland's James Madden (Brisbane), Mark Keane and Anton Tohill (Collingwood), Stefan Okunbor (Geelong) and Callum Brown (GWS Giants) have already committed for the 2019 season.

Those arrivals more than offset the exits of Lion Cian Hanley, Carlton's Ciaran Byrne and Cillian McDaid, and Saint Ray Connellan, who retired or were delisted this year.

There will be 14 Irish footballers in the AFL next season if Murphy takes up the Kangaroos' impending contract offer, which will be the standard two years for international rookies.

Murphy is competing for his club side, Curry, against Shamrock Gaels on Sunday in the Kennedys Intermediate final replay after the teams played out a thrilling tie last weekend.

The forward is considered one of his club's and county Sligo's brightest prospects.

His star began to rise from the time he scored 11 points in Sligo's narrow defeat to Derry in their All-Ireland minor quarter-final last year.

The last Irishman on North's list, Conor Meredith, failed to play an AFL game in his two years there are being drafted in 2008.

The Roos have trialled a series of Irish players since, including Barry Reilly and James McCarthy in 2009 and Rian O'Neill and Jack Kennedy in July last year

They were also interested in Mark O'Connor before he chose to join Geelong two years ago.

North Melbourne used its Category B rookie spot this past season on rower and rugby union player Tom Jeffries, who was delisted after being relegated to grassroots club Avondale Heights when he couldn't earn a VFL game.

West Coast and Essendon are also showing interest in another Irishman, Jordan Morrissey.

Tohill, Keane, Morrissey and countryman Pierce Laverty tested at the NAB AFL Draft Combine in early October.

IRISHMEN ON AFL LISTS*
James Madden (Brisbane)
Mark Keane (Collingwood)
Anton Tohill (Collingwood)
Conor McKenna (Essendon)
Mark O'Connor (Geelong)
Stefan Okunbor (Geelong)
Zach Tuohy (Geelong)
Pearce Hanley (Gold Coast)
Callum Brown (Greater Western Sydney)
Conor Glass (Hawthorn)
Conor Nash (Hawthorn)
Darragh Joyce (St Kilda)
Colin O'Riordan (Sydney)

*More could be added for 2019