Mark Keane: I still love Aussie Rules and wouldn't rule out a return

Cork hurler has yet to make a mark at senior level and still closely follows the fortunes of Collingwood in the AFL
Mark Keane: I still love Aussie Rules and wouldn't rule out a return

Mark Keane of Ballygiblin is fouled by Cormac Daly of Mooncoin. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

CORK senior hurler Mark Keane has admitted he could still resume his Aussie Rules career.

The Ballygiblin club man, on the books of Collingwood for three seasons, made five senior appearances and was highly rated in Melbourne. 

Derry's Anton Tohill and Down's Marty Clarke also pulled on the famous Magpies jersey in recent years and Keane has the physicality and athleticism to thrive in Aussie Rules. A combination of homesickness and Covid restrictions along with some heroic displays for the Cork footballers, snatching that dramatic winner against Kerry, and Ballgiblin, who reached the All-Ireland Junior Hurling final, resulted in him staying in Rebel county last Christmas. 

"I'd probably love to come back," was quoted on the AFL.com.au website. "I still love AFL. I've probably watched every single game so far this year. I've been watching the boys and all the teams. I still kick around here at home.

"It is anyone's dream to go over and play AFL. I definitely wouldn’t rule it out to go back and play. Collingwood has been riddled by injuries, so I definitely wouldn’t rule it out."

Keane surprised many by opting for Cork hurling over football this season, making his debut in the Canon O'Brien Cup back in January. He featured in the league and was introduced off the bench in the loss to Clare at Thurles, unfortunately getting a red card that rules him out of the upcoming Waterford clash.

Having turned 22 back in March, he is young enough to return Down Under too, though there hasn't been any official contact from Collingwood.

"Not many go and play inter-county in both at senior level, but growing up I always wanted to do both. When I came back this year, I thought why not give hurling a go while I can. I've opted to play hurling this season," he told AFL.com.au.

I'm trying to learn the game again because I've missed nearly four years. 

"Trying to come back into a setup that is pretty much professional, you just don’t get paid, and trying to fit back in you have to be patient because I haven’t played the game for three or four years. That will come."

He explained his grá for GAA made it difficult to commit to the AFL.

"It was a pity that love for hurling and football back home is probably something that Australians just don’t get. If you even come over for a weekend in Ireland, you would understand how much it means to your hometown. We don’t grow up transferring clubs and moving clubs and getting drafted into a team. The team you play for is where you grow up; you can't move; you have to stay there.

"It is frustrating knowing that I could have put my best foot forward if I stayed, could have put a really good pre-season in if I stayed there for Christmas and been available for round one selection. It just didn’t go that way unfortunately."

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