Clarke again dismisses AFL recruiting link

By Niall McCoy

FORMER Down star Martin Clarke has reiterated his stance that he is not involved in recruiting potential players for Australian Rules teams.

The former Collingwood man was speaking on the Load of Balls podcast, hosted by John Fegan, and covered a range of issues from Australia to Down’s 2010 All-Ireland adventure to St Louis, Kilkeel’s run to two MacRory Cup finals.

In January when Cathal McShane was heavily linked to a move to the AFL, Tyrone boss Mickey Harte hit out at the “recruits for the AFL within our own ranks.”

Although not mentioned by name, Clarke hit out at Harte’s claim at the time.

For Mickey to be suggesting that former GAA players have the authority to go a team like Adelaide Crows and say, ‘you should pick him up’ is quite comical.”

He returned to the issue on the podcast, explaining his involvement in the process.

I’ve talked about it before, it’s seemingly contentious,” he said.

I get it, guys are taken away from their club and county in their prime age and the opportunity for them to represent is gone.

But I’m detached from all that, I don’t scout, I’m not an agent, I’m not in touch with the clubs directly.

It’s when a kid has been tracked by a team (I get involved), and you have to remember these are big businesses as well. The likes of the big Melbourne clubs, they are multi-million dollar businesses.

They track them, either themselves, club officials or you’d be surprised the amount of guys married that are married to Aussie girls that the club have a link to. They are going to watch school games in Connacht or whatever it is.

I come into it when they have been selected essentially and they have agreed to it.

I make the transition easier with skills and game awareness, talking to the family.”

Clarke also said that it’s vital to remember that some players want to get on the radar of an AFL team rather than the other way about.

A lot of the perception can be that they come in and whip the boys out, the amount of clubs inundated with boys saying ‘how do I get a chance?’ It’s definitely two ways.”

You can hear the full podcast by visiting Load of Balls on Twitter at @loadofballs01 or by visiting their Facebook page.

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