Irish prospect, Darragh Joyce, not giving up on AFL dream

IRISH prospect Darragh Joyce hasn’t given up hope of an AFL career after returning home from the NAB AFL draft combine without a contract.

The star hurler had significant interest from several clubs, but there were concerns over homesickness for the 18-year-old.

The lure of home has proved too strong for two Irishman recruits in the past few years, with Ciaran Kilkenny (Hawthorn) and Daniel Flynn (Port Adelaide) both returning to the Emerald Isle.

“They told me to go to college for a year and it’s kind of like a trial to see how I’ll react to homesickness and being away from family,” Joyce told the Irish Independent.

“A lot can happen in a year and you could pick up an injury but hopefully it will all work out.

“It’s a huge opportunity and something I’d love to do.”

At 193cm and 88 kg, the County Kilkenny product is in the mould of his cousin, Essendon dual premiership defender, Kevin Walsh.

“I’m almost looking at this year as pre-season, trying to get myself as fit as possible and get more acquainted with the skills involved,” he said.

“This year is giving me the best possible chance to progress. The Australians’ first touch is the same as ours in hurling.

“After a week with the ball you just fall in love with it.”

AFL national and international talent manager Kevin Sheehan believes Joyce has a future in the game, inviting him to two talent identification events in the coming months.

“We’ve outlined a plan that will see him attend next month’s international combine in Dublin again and we expect him to be one of the Irishman selected to join us for the IMG academy in Florida in January,” he told

“These are massive decisions to leave one part of the world to switch codes.

“Over the next few months hopefully Darragh and one of the clubs interested can come to an agreement.”

Joyce doesn’t have to look to far for extra motivation to realise his goal of becoming a professional sportsman, with countryman and great mate Colin O’Riordan snapped up by the Sydney Swans after impressing at the combine.

“I’m absolutely delighted for Colin and I know he’s going to make a big success of it, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit sickened coming home knowing that I wouldn’t be going back again soon like him,” he admitted.

“It’ll be great to follow his progress and learn from him. I’m sure he can impart wise words and advise me what I need to work on to make it.”


Originally posted by Ryan Davidson on