CORK hurler and Ballygiblin star Mark Keane is set to return to Australia to resume his AFL career.
Turning 23 in March, he has already enjoyed a successful sporting career and was the heartbeat of Ballygiblin's recent victories at centre-back.
Keane was a member of the Cork hurling squad last year and made his hurling championship debut off the bench against Clare in the Munster round-robin when he was unfortunately shown a red card. He was again involved in pre-season preparations for 2023, featuring against Kerry at wing-back recently.
This won’t be his first stint in Australia. He previously spent three years with Collingwood before deciding to return to Ireland last year. He made five first-team appearances in the AFL for the Melbourne-based side, who he joined in 2018.
This time he'll be hoping to make a real mark with Adelaide Crows.
The Ballygiblin native excelled for the Cork footballers at minor and U20 levels before making the leap to the senior ranks in 2020, during a break from his Aussie Rules career. While there was no crowd due to Covid restrictions, he became a hero of the Cork faithful for his dramatic match-winning goal in extra-time in the Munster semi-final win over Kerry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
He also played in the provincial final loss to Tipperary and will certainly be a big loss to Cork GAA. Keane will be an even bigger loss to Ballygiblin, who he won an All-Ireland junior club hurling medal with last weekend in Croke Park.
The North Cork club are sad to see him go but wished him all the best in a statement on social media.
"So we are losing him for now to Adelaide Crows. We wish him all the very best in his new career and will be cheering him on from this side of the world at all hours of the night and morning. Best of luck Mark. Thanks for everything.”
He leaves as a beloved and well-respected member of Ballygiblin GAA: “Always has an encouraging word for the juveniles. Always willing to help out with fundraising. An all-round great club man.”
Keane follows in the footsteps of previous GAA stars to join the AFL, including Cork footballer Ciaran Sheehan and hurler Setanta Ó hAilpín, Leesides most successful exports down under.
Ballygiblin and Mitchelstown have produced a host of gifted youngsters in recent years. Cathail O’Mahony is a key forward for John Cleary’s Cork footballers while Darragh Flynn is a part of Pat Ryan’s hurling squad.
Both featured this week for UCC in Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup wins.