Gaelic talent on rookie list for Cats

ROOKIE: New Cat Stefan Okunbor (Facebook).

Highly rated Gaelic footballer Stefan Okunbor has signed on with Geelong as a category B rookie for the next two seasons.

The 20-year-old Irishman has been on the AFL radar for several seasons, having been invited to the AFL Academy Camp in Florida and the AFL National Combine in Melbourne.

He returned to Ireland to work on his game, playing for home club Na Gaeil in Tralee, University of Limerick and Kerry U20s at inter-county level.

Okunbor had a dominant season in 2018 where he was awarded U20 Munster Player of the year and helped Kerry secure the Munster title with a man-of-the match display against Cork.

In a statement, Okunbor’s club’s Na Gaeil said: “He has been a shining light in our club and while his team mates will miss him on and off the pitch, he is embarking on an exciting adventure in professional sport and he carries all our best wishes and we are sure the good wishes of all in Kerry GAA.”

“Stefan is a physical and competitive player. His speed, power and endurance are well-suited to AFL football,” Geelong’s recruiting and list manager Stephen Wells said.

“He is a talented young player, who has wholly committed to the opportunity of becoming an AFL footballer.”

Okunbor’s signing makes him the third Irishman on Geelong’s list, joining fellow Kerry local Mark O’Connor and Zach Tuohy at GMHBA Stadium.

Geelong has also elevated rookies Jack Henry and Mark O’Connor to the club’s senior list.

A rookie draft selection in 2017, Henry enjoyed a breakout year, playing 22 consecutive games after his AFL debut in round two.

Henry was named the club’s Best Young Player at the club’s ‘Carji’ Greeves Medal after playing a key position role in both attack and defence, he also earned a rising star nomination in round seven.

A former Gaelic footballer, O’Connor joined the Cats in the 2016 pre-season and has played seven games since debuting in round eight, 2017 including this year’s elimination final clash with Melbourne.

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