McQuillan and Towey in sights of AFL big guns

July 16, 2019

Cavan's Darragh Kennedy races for possession with Armagh's Ross McQuillan during the 2016 Ulster MFC quarter-final

by Daragh Ó Conchúir

Ross McQuillan and Luke Towey look set to be the latest GAA recruit to the AFL, with reports in Australia suggesting that Essendon and Richmond are leading the race for the Armagh and Sligo prospects.

A son of former long-serving Armagh captain Martin, who also served as a selector with the Orchard County, McQuillan made his senior debut last year in his first season out of minor and also starred for the county U20s.

The Cullyhanna man was one of a quartet from last year’s European Combine in Dublin invited Down Under for trials and interviews last April, the others being Ronan Devereux (Wexford), Peadar Mogan (Donegal) and Towey (Sligo).

He had impressed with his aggression and speed, clocking 2.77 seconds for the 20m sprint in Dublin, while also shown good kicking ability off both feet.

The four players trained with the AFL Academy U18s and U17s, and also took in tours of the Richmond, Carlton, Essendon and Collingwood complexes.

They were interviewed by North Melbourne, Essendon and Richmond and it is the latter two outfits that are said to be particularly keen on McQuillan but are also looking at Towey closely.

Towey is of similar build and athleticism to McQuillan, while also having been exposed to senior football, and the St Molaise Gaels product would fit into the modern hard-running style of Aussie rules that has prompted an increase in the attraction of GAA players for a counter-attacking half-back role.

Essendon already possess an Irishman on their list in Tyrone underage star Conor McKenna, who has become one of the Bombers’ key players this year as they target the AFL finals.

Richmond previously had Jamie O’Reilly on their books, with the Down man playing four times in the AFL, while Westmeath sharpshooter John Heslin returned after three months in 2012 when failing to settle.

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