Heslin’s Aussie dream looks to be at an end
IT looks as though John Heslin’s Aussie Football League career is over before it really began.
The 19-year-old Richmond Tigers signing has returned home to Westmeath "indefinitely" due to homesickness.
It’s a blow to the Melbourne club’s Irish recruitment programme after Down’s Jamie O’Reilly decided against extending his contract with the club at the end of last season ... but this cloud could have a silver lining for Westmeath fans who have seen their senior team make a demoralising start to 2012.
"It’s never easy for young players to relocate to a new country, a long away from their family and friends," said Richmond Tigers’ general manager of football, Craig Cameron. "John found that transition difficult, and has experienced homesickness," added Cameron. The Westmeath teenager, who is eligible for another two years at U21 level, had trialled with Essendon before putting pen to paper with the Tigers.
"We have worked hard to support John and will continue to do so, but we understand his decision to return home at this time," Cameron said. Contacted today, Westmeath secretary Pat Lynagh said he had heard rumours but nothing concrete. "We would be disappointed for himself that his dream to Australia is on hold," added Lynagh, while admitting it would be "great for us" were Heslin to return to play football in Westmeath. Heslin’s Mullingar club, St Loman’s, confirmed the player is due to land home tomorrow.
"He is a valued member of our club," said chairman Aidan Davitt. "If he decides it’s the best thing to return home and stay, we will certainly do anything to assist him. It would be a big winner for ourselves." In better news for the AFL’s Irish contingent, Down’s Caolan Mooney will make his debut for Collingwood in the NAB cup as they take on the Western Bulldogs and GWS in Sydney.