Paddy all fired up for Aussie challenge

A talented 20-year-old with strong Kilkenny connections is hoping to hit the big time in the Australian Football League, writes John Knox.

A talented 20-year-old with strong Kilkenny connections is hoping to hit the big time in the Australian Football League, writes John Knox.

Paddy Brophy, who broke into the Kildare senior team two years ago, has been signed by top AFL side, West Coast Eagles in Perth.

Paddy is son of John Brophy, who is formerly from Finnan, Ballyragget. Dad was a winner of junior and intermediate hurling championship honours with St Patrick’s in 1977 and 1978 respectively.

He is a graduate of the famed St Kieran’s College hurling nursery.

“We are all very proud of him. It is a great chance for Paddy,” insisted proud dad, John, who played in the Kilkenny senior championship with his home town club in the company of such as Mick O’Shea, Noel Callanan, Shem Brophy and Matt Ruth.

“A lot of the people who go over don’t settle, but he appears to be happy enough,” John added.

The Eagles have financed a trip to Perth for Mr Brophy and his Mayo born wife, Carmel, in March and they are already looking forward to making the trip.

The Eagles were on the trail of young Brophy since 2013 when he played for the European Legion against the NAB FL Academy.

“He showed some raw talent and looked to have some great attributes to work with,” was the summary of Eagles national recruiting manager, Rohan O’Brien at the time. “I was impressed with his enthusiasm and the way he maintained his work rate, despite playing Gaelic football for his county two days before.”

O’Brien eventually got his man at a National Combine (draft) late last year.

After working a bit with the former Celbridge clubman, his verdict was: “He has worked hard on his skills. Paddy won the ‘clean hands’ test at the AFL combine with a score of 26/30 and also scored 25/30 in the goal-kicking test.”

Paddy Brophy has been a star since he first kicked a football. He won under-14 championship honours with his club before captaining Celbridge to a Feile-na-nGael. He also starred with the Kildare minor and under-21 sides.

John didn’t play much football, but his father, Paddy, played a fair bit with Conahy, who were the main team in the area at the time.

“He is fiercely dedicated and determined,” said John.

Paddy was at home for a short holiday over Christmas and he told the ’People he was ready to give his all as a professional sportsman.

“The season is going to be a huge challenge,” said Paddy, who, as one of the latest recruits has been assigned the number 45 shirt (jumper, as Aussies call it) in the 47 strong squad. There is a full profile of all the players on the club Website, including the young Kildare lad.

From his limited exposure to the Aussies rule game, what does he think?

“I am really enjoying it,” he insisted. “I had two months before I came home and I enjoyed it. It is a hugely popular sport. I like being a full time athlete.”

Paddy had been loaned out to the East Perth club, which is the feeder club for the Eagles. He will be trained as a half back in the ALF, although he has been a star forward in Gaelic.

“I am up for the challenge,” he insisted. “In the two months I have been there I haven’t seen anything that frightens me.

“I feel even more confident now that I can make it. When you get involved in the set up and get to know the other players and bond with the staff it all helps you progress.”

He has been signed on a two year contract.

“That basically mean you have to two years to show signs you are making progress,” Paddy explained. “If you make progress you can earn another contract. You are not expected to make the first team straight away.”

He has found the club and officials to be very professional and welcoming.

“I will miss playing for Kildare, and playing in places like Croke Park, but I have to follow my dream,” he concluded.