Cathal McShane will return to Ireland after training with Adelaide. Picture:

ONE OF Gaelic football's breakout stars is seriously contemplating a move to the AFL to join rebuilding Adelaide.

Powerful forward Cathal McShane hails from the same county, Tyrone, as Essendon speedster Conor McKenna, who's become one of the Bombers' most important players.

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McShane caught AFL recruiters' attention with his transformation last season from a run-of-the-mill half-forward and midfielder into Tyrone's focal point and the competition's leading scorer.

He subsequently received All-Star honours and was a genuine contender for Player of the Year, with one scout telling he could play at centre half-forward in the AFL.

The Irish media has linked McShane to Brisbane on almost a daily basis for weeks – even suggesting he's on the verge of signing a two-year deal – but understands this is incorrect.

The 24-year-old will fly out to Australia in January to train with the Crows, who can still sign him as a Category B rookie and place him on their list for the 2020 season.

The Crows' national recruiting manager Hamish Ogilvie travelled to Dublin in December to attend the annual AFL Europe Combine and run his eye over potential Irish recruits. 

McShane didn't trial at that Combine but did so back at the 2014 edition.

Irishmen typically take the AFL plunge in their late teenage years and he would be the oldest Gaelic footballer to switch to the Australian code. 

However, McShane's incredible emergence from role player to bonafide star has helped convince Ogilvie and co. that he can successfully make the transition. 

He is a strong athlete but very agile, and his marking ability – the Gaelic Athletic Association introduced marking in 2017 – and sublime finishing skills mean he is a quality project player.

McShane is the biggest Gaelic name in years to change codes and that's why his playing future is such a hot topic in the Irish media.

He could become the first Irishman to play an AFL game for the Crows, although Ailish Considine made her AFLW debut for the club last year.


Adelaide is amid a list overhaul and is focusing on youth, with Eddie Betts, Richard Douglas, Cam Ellis-Yolmen, Hugh Greenwood, Sam Jacobs, Josh Jenkins, Alex Keath and Andy Otten departing at season's end.

The Crows have a number of key forwards already, including former skipper Taylor Walker, Tom Lynch, Darcy Fogarty, Elliot Himmelberg and ex-Power tall Billy Frampton.

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McShane's likely defection to the AFL has disappointed Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, a long-time critic of the Australian game's luring of Gaelic football talent.

"He (McShane) has been wooed by some people in the AFL," Harte told the BBC.

"I think he's (going) out there for a few days to experience what that might be like.

"There has been no final decision yet on whether he's going to go or whether he will stay with us but, at the moment, he's certainly considering that move."

Harte said it was "sad" that former Gaelic players were playing a role in recruiting talent for the AFL and strongly hinted that there should be compensation in place.

Marty Clarke and Ciaran Byrne, who help develop Irish men and women in the hope of earning an AFL contract, are among the people Harte is referring to.

Ex-Swan Tadhg Kennelly previously filled a similar role to Clarke and has been directly criticised by his countrymen in the past.

There are 17 Irishmen on an AFL list entering the upcoming season, with McShane set to increase that.

Irishmen on AFL lists in 2020 

James Madden (Brisbane), Mark Keane and Anton Tohill (Collingwood), Conor McKenna, Ross McQuillan and Cian McBride (Essendon), Mark O'Connor, Stefan Okunbor and Zach Tuohy (Geelong), Pearce Hanley and Luke Towey (Gold Coast), Callum Brown (Greater Western Sydney), Conor Glass and Conor Nash (Hawthorn), Darragh Joyce (St Kilda), Colin O'Riordan and Barry O'Connor (Sydney).