In the late 1980s, former Derry star Anthony Tohill spent a short time as a rookie player with the Melbourne Demons in the AFL. It was a precursor to what was a glorious career that saw him claim an All-Ireland and four league titles with the Oak Leaf County.

And now Tohill's son, Anton has the chance to make his mark Down Under after impressing at the recent AFL combine in UCD. At 6' 6", the 17-year-old bounced back from several heavy collisions to display his eye-catching athleticism and leadership qualities.  

As reported in today's Irish Independent, young Tohill along with Dublin's James Madden and Cork's Mark Keane have been invited to the AFL Academy in Florida next month. 

Madden, a member of this year's Dubs minor team, underlined his fleet of foot when clocking 2.68seconds for the 20m sprint at the recent trial.

Keane featured on both the Cork U17 and minor sides in the season just past.

Speaking at the combine, AFL national and international talent manager Kevin Sheehan said he understood some of the fear expressed in Ireland about losing top players, but he feels there will never be huge numbers making the switch.

"It's not surprising the level of player playing Gaelic football, it's elite. You even see it at International Rules level, they can match the best in Australia as they did last month. They're pretty elite.

"But there'll only ever be an odd one. It's never a flood that comes our way. There's been an average of one-and-a-half to two, and one comes back so it fits in that space, it's not a case of pillaging the boys that are talented.

"David Clifford, for instance, doesn't appear to want it and that's fine," continued Sheehan.

"We've seen that over many years. From where we come, we appreciate the legacy of Jim Stynes to come out when he made that decision 30 years ago and become a legend of our game and contribute massively to our community.

"And we think, in fairness to what he did and achieved, that we should continue and give a small number of young fellas an opportunity to see if they want to progress their career."