GAA: Down pair Marty Clarke and Caolan Mooney leave AFL side Collingwood
Last Updated: 04/09/14 12:08pm
Down duo Marty Clarke and Caolan Mooney are returning to Ireland after leaving AFL side Collingwood.
The Aussie Rules club confirmed their departure on their website on Thursday as they announced the changes to their senior and rookie lists ahead of the upcoming trade and draft periods.
Clarke made 73 appearances for Collingwood during his two stints at the club. He made his debut in 2007 but returned home at the end of the 2009 season, and played a pivotal role as Down reached the 2010 All-Ireland final.
Marty played some excellent football over his time and he can be proud of making the transition from Gaelic football to Australian Rules.
The An Ríocht clubman went back to Collingwood in 2012 but due to a combination of form and injury, he played just 27 matches across the next three years.
Mooney made the move Down Under in late 2011 and made four appearances in his debut season. He played two further games in 2013 but his progress stalled this year and he was unable to add to his six match tally.
Mooney tweeted on Wednesday: “I have decided that I will be returning home to play Gaelic for my club and county. I have enjoyed my time at Collingwood FC greatly.”
Collingwood director of football Rodney Eade thanked the pair for their efforts.
“Marty played some excellent football over his time and he can be proud of making the transition from Gaelic football to Australian Rules,” he said. “At his best, he gave the side real zip and punch
“He was a very popular figure and we wish him well, as we do Caolan and Peter, who gave us all that they had in their time at the Westpac Centre.”
While Mooney has confirmed he would be interested in playing inter-county football, Clarke says it is low down on his list of priorities. The 27-year-old will marry fiancée Anna next month and the couple are expecting their first child in January.
Clarke told the Irish Daily Star: "I haven't given any thought to whether I'll be coming back and playing for Down. I've been playing at the highest level for the past nine seasons in Australia and Ireland.
"I'm going back home and I have other stuff happening. I'll see where I'm at. My number one priority is Anna and the baby and getting my teaching degree.”
Down are currently seeking a new manager after James McCartan stepped down following their defeat to Kildare in this year’s All-Ireland SFC qualifiers.
Watch the All-Ireland final between Kerry and Donegal live on Sky Sports 3 on September 21