The Irish ex-Gaelic footy man talks about Aussie Rules, settling in Oz and backyard cricket.
Tell me a little about how you were asked to try out for Aussie Rules? I was playing for my club Dromintee and Armagh when I got a call from Collingwood’s recruiting manager, Derek Hine. He asked if I be interested in going over to Melbourne for a month’s trial period, so it all started from there. I went over and liked what I saw and they were happy with me, so they asked me to come over permanently. I went home and discussed it all with my parents and made up my mind to come over.
Was it a big decision to make? It was. Leaving behind my family and friends was the hardest thing and not playing gaelic football, which is the game I love. However I thought that while I am young I may as well try something different. Home will always be there for me and my family have been over to see me and hopefully a few of my mates can get over for a while also.
How have the club treated you? The club has been brilliant to me. Since day one they have offered a lot of support, be it developing my skills or dealing with times of homesickness and of course supporting me through my injury. I am very grateful. Everyone gets on really well and are always willing to give each other a helping hand if need be.
Have you travelled round Oz much? I haven’t, to be honest. With my time off at the end of the year and Christmas I like to go home to see my family. During the season we don’t have much time to do any travelling. However, I have been to Perthand Sydney for a few days to look around, which was good.
Have you picked up any Aussie-sms yet? I don’t think I have. Maybe I don’t even know what I am saying it at this stage. Myself and [Northern Irishman] Martin Clarke have a good laugh now and again due to some of the things the boys say. The Aussies tend to shorten most words such as “sanga” for sandwich and “arvo” for afternoon, but hopefully I can avoid using them for as long as possible!
It must be helpful having Martin there… Yeah. He has experienced things that I would be going through, but mainly just to have a laugh and a joke with as we have similar personalities and get on pretty well.
What do you do to relax away from the game? I don’t do anything exciting. Just hang out with a few of the boys and maybe go to the beach or the cinema. Marty and I have recently been converted to backyard cricket, which believe it or not can be good fun. I never thought I would hear myself say that – I’ve always considered it extremely boring. I also enjoy heading out for dinner now and again and going to the casino for a bit of excitement!
What is the training regime like? Pretty similar to home, with three main sessions during the week and recovery sessions in between. Weekends are usually taken up by games and recovery the day after. A main session day would consist of running and skills out on the ground, followed by weights and a hydro session inside. Recovery days are just a chance to get a massage and stretch and recover in the pool or spa. You can then also do your own individual stuff whenever you like, whether it’s kicking, running or studying opposition with some of the coaches.
What are your hopes for the season? First of all, clear up my injury fully and start playing a few games to get into the swing of things again. Hopefully at some stage I will play for the senior side.
How long do you think you’ll stay in Oz? I have no set time that I would like to stay in http://www.tntdownunder.com/article/2437918549.html[Australia] for. It could be one year, ten years or I could stay here forever. For more info on Collingwood, other AFL teams and the 2009/10 season, visit www.afl.com.au