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Hurley’s Aussie dream begins

Costa Kastanis  November 5, 2014 5:01 PM

Sean Hurley is happy to start living his dream of playing professional AFL.

In 2005, 13-year-old Sean Hurley was watching the Irish news when he saw countryman Tadgh Kennelly celebrating an AFL premiership with the Sydney Swans.

Images of the former Gaelic football star Irish dancing on top of a stage have remained in Hurley’s mind till this day.

“Everyone in Ireland was watching that,” he said.

“If someone else could do something similar to that it would give another boost to AFL (in Ireland).”

As a newly signed International Rookie with the Fremantle Dockers, the now 22-year-old will get his chance to emulate his countryman, even though he acknowledges there is plenty of hard work and learning to go.

He has been in close contact with Kennelly for some advice on the oval ball game and moving to Australia.

“Tadgh will be a big influence,” Hurley said.

“It’s nice to watch him play and to see how well he’s done over here, it gives you a bit of inspiration.

“He gave me a good bit of advice, so I’ll take it all on board and put it into action.”

Hurley arrived in Australia on Monday.

“I saw the sunshine and blue skies and it put the smile on my face straight away,” he said.

He had a light run on Fremantle Oval on Wednesday morning that included a kick-to-kick session with one of his new teammates.

“I like to think I’m a good kick but I was having a kick with one of the Freo boys this morning and he was pinging them to my chest and a few of mine were going off track,” he said.

Hurley can be forgiven considering the Freo player was Michael Walters, who is a magician with the football.

The Irishman has been practicing his AFL skills with the oval ball back home over the past year, although that resulted in a few strange stares.

His Gaelic football boss at Kildare wasn’t too impressed.

“One day at Gaelic training I was having a kick before training,” Hurley said. 

“The manager came and kicked it into the hedge. He was only messing but I had to get it after training, it wasn’t allowed onto the pitch.”

Hurley hasn’t seen his new coach Ross Lyon in person yet since he arrived in Australia, but he’s talked to him on the phone.

“We’re going to have a chat later in the week,” Hurley said.

“He’s a lovely man and I’m looking forward to what guidance he’s going to give me.”

The professional lifestyle is what excites Hurley the most about being at Fremantle.

“I just want to learn from the best here - all the professional coaches and I want to get to know all the players, get to know the game,” he said.

“I learn something new every day I come in here.

“We’re not a professional sport over in Ireland. It’s nice to come over here and just put all your time and effort into training and getting your body right and getting ready for games.”

He stands 196cm tall, which local Irish paper the Kildare Nationalist considers ‘towering’.   

“I’m tall over in Ireland but I’m not tall over here,” Hurley said.

He’s not yet picked up enough AFL lingo to properly describe where he thinks he might be suited to play in Aussie rules.

“I could play as a something key, I don’t know,” Hurley said.

He surmised it would be best to leave it up to the coaches to decide his best position.

Fremantle supporters better get used to hearing terms such as ‘high catching the ball’ and the word ‘like’ thrown into sentences.

You never know, maybe one day they they’ll see Sean Hurley dancing on a stage, celebrating the ultimate success and inspiring the next wave of Irish talent.