Fermanagh footballer Ultan Kelm has joined Aussie Rules side Fremantle ahead of the the 2022 season.
The Erne Gaels man was due to travel to Australia for trials before the Covid-19 pandemic intervened - after impressing at the 2019 European combine - but has now landed a rookie contract with the the Dockers, who are based in a suburb of Perth.
Kelm (21) has played in both the half-back and half-forward lines for Fermanagh since making his championship debut in 2019 and scored a point in the county's Ulster quarter-final loss to Monaghan in July.
The club highlighted that his time of 2.73 seconds for the 20-metre sprint was one of the fastest recorded in recent years and Fremantle's head of player personnel David Walls said he believed Kelm had great potential.
"Ultan's been involved in the AFL Combines in Ireland and he’s interviewed extremely well," said Walls. "He’s desperate for an opportunity, he’s professional and he’s a really good athlete who plays with a lot of confidence and rebounds off half back.
"What’s impressed us most is how proactive he’s been with following up with information, watching games and his understanding of the game.
"We’ve got all of his athletic data, which is off the charts, and he’s provided us with plenty of footage of him practicing and kicking."
Walls said that Kelm had worked with former Collingwood player and now Down U-20 coach Marty Clark to keep up his skills with the Sherrin ball.
"He’s been using an AFL footy for the last couple of years and practicing his skills. He’s still got a long way to go but he’s made some great gains in the last two years and is incredibly motivated," Walls said.
"He’s worked with Martin Clark in Ireland, who has assisted us in this process as well with information and training him. It’s been mixed historically with players from Ireland, but it could take a couple of years before we could expect to see him playing at AFL level."
Kildare footballer Sean Hurley was with Fremantle in 2015 but did not make an AFL appearance, while Louth woman Kate Flood and Leitrim's Áine Tighe have played for the club's AFLW side in recent seasons.
Fremantle finished 11th in the AFL this year.