Armagh star Jarly Og Burns has recently revealed he was approached by an AFL team after the 2019 season.
Speaking on ‘The Adrenaline Rush Podcast,’ the Silverbridge midfielder detailed the offer and described how he turned it down to fulfil his dream of lining out in the orange and white.
The 2019 Irish News All-Star made a huge impact in his debut season, hitting 1-4 across his side five championship outings.
“After the 2019 season I then went to England to do a PGCE and was over there full time. I had an Instagram request message and some boy had sent it to me on the Saturday and I had only seen it on the Tuesday.
It was a man, I’ll not say his name, from an AFL club over in Australia, the Geelong club that Mark O’Connor’s with.
They were basically saying ‘we’re very interested in having you over and signing you up, are you interested?’. We had talks back and forth, zoom calls and different things”.
At the same time Burns’ father and former Armagh captain, Jarlath Burns, was campaigning to be the GAA president.
“A few people tried to keep it really lowkey, mainly because Dad was going for the presidency of the GAA at the time and was obviously touring around Ireland talking to different people and I didn’t want it getting out that I was in talks with an AFL team.
It wouldn’t have looked good for him, trying to become president of the association and his son’s maybe leaving. So, we kept it really under-wraps and not many people knew that. I suppose it’s fine now”.
While Burns did consider the offer, a move down under was never really an ambition, especially after doing so well during Armagh’s championship campaign.
“At the time then I was planning on going over and I always knew I wasn’t going to take up on it.
I didn’t see the point in going over after establishing yourself and most people would go over when they haven’t broke on to the county scene yet and they haven’t had that breakthrough”.
My life was set. I came off a good season with Armagh, I was enjoying it and I’d made friends and I was just about to finish my PGCE to go into teaching, so the path was laid there for me and I was happy enough.
A lot of people would say to me, ‘why’d you say no? why didn’t you go?’ And it was just a happiness thing. You can have all the money in the world but if you’re not happy what’s the point”.
The Instagram message wasn’t the midfielders first connection with Aussie Rules, as he’d been called for a trial as an Armagh minor in 2014.
“I was approached and went to a combine in Dublin. Scouts had looked at the (minor) championship that year and picked out maybe 15 players that they thought would suit the sport.
There were various scouts there from different clubs over in Australia. We just went through different drills, different tests, vertical jumps tests, the bleep test, the whole lot. Then went through skills and stuff”.
Burns shared the experience with several of the best talents in the country, some of which are now household names.
“Then the last day we played a game. I actually ended up winning a Sydney Swans jersey from Tadgh Kennelly. There was a crossbar challenge at the end and myself and Mark O’Connor hit the crossbar, who’s actually playing over in Geelong at the minute.
Cathal McShane was there from Tyrone, Con O’Callaghan was there, Killian Spillane, Michael Burns, different boys from Kerry too”.
“It was nice to be recognised, I was so young at the time, I was one of the youngest there and maybe not as developed as other boys.
I was never approached; I was very young and probably too young. I didn’t test too well; I think I tested well on the vertical jump and that was it really.
To get scouted or to get seen and to stand out, you need to be getting exceptional scores in multiple tests and I wasn’t at that level. It was an experience and I enjoyed it, definitely”.