Colm Begley has backed fellow Laoisman Conor Meredith to make the grade in the Australian Football League (AFL), if he decides to follow him down under to the Brisbane Lions.
Meredith, who is currently on a two-week trial with the Lions, has all the necessary attributes, reckons Begley, and has adapted very quickly already to the targets he has been set.
“He has been training with us now for the last couple of days,” Begley told the Leinster Express yesterday (Tuesday), “and his skill levels are very good. Obviously he is a very good kicker in Gaelic football but from what I’ve seen of him here he has the talent to make it. The guys out here are getting more used to training the Irish lads as well having worked with myself and Pierce (Hanley) over the last couple of years so they have been learning too.
“I think it’s up to him if he wants to come out. I don’t think they have brought him all the way out here just to find out what he’s like. They know the ability he has and I think it he wants to come out he’ll probably get a rookie contract and will come out in November.”
Having had Hanley join him last year in Brisbane, Begley would love to have another Irish team-mate. “It’s great to have another Irishman out here and it would certainly be great to have another Laoisman. Over the last few years Laois have been a powerhouse at underage level and that has been attracting the interest of the Australian scouts. Obviously Zach Touhy has been linked with Carlton as well and the more Irish guys that go out, the more the Australians will see the potential in Ireland.”
Begley doesn’t think an ‘Irish’ AFL team could be successful in Australia, however, if, as reported widely in the past week, a Sydney Celtics team is established. “They are increasing the league from 16 to 18 teams and they are planning to have a team on the Gold Coast and another team in Sydney but I don’t think the Australians would support an exclusively Irish team. It would be like trying to set up a County Australia team in Ireland, it just wouldn’t work.”
Having missed the last ten weeks because of a tear in his quad muscle, Begley is hoping to make his comeback this week with the Suncoast Lions, the club’s reserve side before hopefully re-claiming his place with the first team. The Lions currently lie in seventh place in the ladder and if they finish in the top eight they will qualify for the finals. If they finish in the top four they will earn a second chance in the finals, meaning Begley would be involved right up to the middle of September at the earliest. That, of course, could limit his involvement with Stradbally in the local championship who play Portlaoise in the opening round on Sunday, August 10 but could be around for the latter stages if Stradbally are still involved.
Filed under: Laois Football