TWO Melbourne-based AFL clubs are battling it out to sign Dublin dual star Ciarán Kilkenny after he visited the city last week.
The Castleknock man is now facing a major decision over his future in the coming weeks.
Kilkenny, who kicked three points in Dublin's All-Ireland SFC exit at the hands of Mayo, has started an arts degree course in UCD but remains firmly on the radar of Carlton Blues, with whom he was linked during the season.
However, it has transpired that Kilkenny instead visited Hawthorn football club on his recent trip to Oz, another AFL outfit in Australia's second largest city.
And the club are keen to move forward and sign the All-Ireland Under 21 football medalist on an international rookie contract.
The club did not wish to comment on Kilkenny's visit until such time as the player makes a decision as to where his football future lies, be it at home in Dublin or with one of his suitors Down Under.
Kilkenny has, in the past, spoken of his desire to play professionally, although he has stopped short of signaling his intentions to move on a permanent basis and has similarly stated his desire to "win All-Irelands with Dublin."
Anthony Daly has already made his interest in Kilkenny known, and the player is eager to attempt to play both football and hurling for Dublin next season if he stays in the country.
The expected appointment of Jim Gavin - Kilkenny's manager with this year's successful Under 21 football team - may have some influence over his decision, but team-mate Denis Bastick spoke last week about the likelihood of the player making the move.
And Kildare could also be set to lose one of their most promising talents, with Under 21 prospect and senior panelist, Seán Hurley, also in a group of ten international players as part of the AFL draft combine, along with Derry's Emmett Bradley.
The Draft Combine, which takes place on October 2nd to October 5th, is a camp used for talent identification in the lead up to the AFL Draft and this year is the first time that the AFL, as a sports body, has officially targeted Irish players for the competition.
In the past, clubs themselves have recruited players from Ireland.
"Over the last few years the AFL has been preparing for this with AFL International Combines being held in the USA, South Pacific, China and Europe, in search of potential talent," AFL National and International Talent Manager Kevin Sheehan said.
"It's a glimpse in to the future of the AFL to see ten internationals in amongst the best talent from around Australia."