From a newspaper ad 38 years ago to the Grand Final: The ‘Irish experiment’ still endures in Australia

It’s not often that a near 40-year experiment can trace its roots back to a single event. It’s rarer still that the genesis of it can come back to a newspaper advert in 1982.

ut that’s how ‘the Irish experiment’, the AFL’s enduring interest in top young GAA talent, came to pass.

And tomorrow morning, another chapter could be written in that story when Dingle’s Mark O’Connor and Portlaoise’s Zach Tuohy try and emulate the feat of Tadhg Kennelly and win an AFL Grand Final. The Irish pair are part of the Geelong side taking on Richmond in the decider.

The ‘Irish experiment’ was the brainchild of Ron Barassi, a celebrated player and coach of the Melbourne club. Barassi gambled that recruiting new talent from previously untapped resources was the way back to the top for his side and he took out a newspaper advert in May of that year.

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