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Next big Irish import has AFL clubs on the prowl

PART-TIME Gaelic footballer Darragh Joyce looms as the next Irishman to make the switch to the AFL, with at least two clubs keen to obtain the teenager's signature.

The 18-year-old, who is a star junior hurler, was a standout at the recent European combine in Dublin, with his skills and game awareness impressing club recruiters.

Hawthorn and the Sydney Swans are two clubs that have made enquiries about the 192cm County Kilkenny product, with the Hawks recently visiting his family home.

"They don't play any football in my county at all, but I go to school in County Wexford so I play there," Joyce told
Irish invasion to continue: Kennelly
"I play football for around six months of the year, so it's a great break from playing hurling all year round."

Joyce has been on recruiters' radars for the past two years while starring for his school's football team and captaining Kilkenny's minor (under-18) hurling side.

His older brother Kieran is a three-time All-Ireland winner with the hurling powerhouse.

But despite his family's standing and his huge potential in Ireland's indigenous sports, he's open to a career in the AFL.

"It's a game I enjoy watching and it would be fantastic to do something you love as your job, so it definitely stands out for me," he said.

"Tadhg Kennelly is an inspiration and he was the first big name I heard of making it big out in Australia, as well as Zach Tuohy and Pearce Hanley, so it's great for Ireland."

And the AFL's international talent manager was equally impressed with Joyce and his performance at the combine.

"Darragh was super, he really stepped up," Kennelly said.

"He's been exposed to the game and he was really impressive when the footballs came out considering he's only just got over glandular fever.

"He's a great size and shape, really good with ball in hand and he tested really well."

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