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Setanta Ó hAilpín
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Personal information
Birth 18 March 1983 (1983-03-18) (age 26)Sydney, Australia
Recruited from Na Piarsaigh GAA (Cork GAA)
Height and weight 199cm / 96kg
Playing career¹
Debut Round 7, 7 May 2005, Carlton vs. Richmond, at Melbourne Cricket Ground
Team(s) Carlton (2005-)

58 games, 30 goals

¹ Statistics to end of 2008 season
Career highlights

Setanta "Carlos" Ó hAilpín, (born in Sydney, Australia on 18 March 1983) is an Irish Sportsperson. He was a hurler with the Cork senior team before becoming a professional Australian Rules footballer. He is of mixed Irish and Rotuman background. His brothers Seán Óg and Aisake are also noted sportsmen.

Ó hAilpín is currently the most experienced current Australian Football League player associated with the Irish Experiment.


Early Life and Gaelic Games

Ó hAilpín was born in Australia to an Irish father and a mother from the Fijian dependency of Rotuma. The family moved to Cork in Ireland in 1988, and Setanta played both hurling and Gaelic football for Na Piarsaigh, eventually concentrating on hurling. In 2000 he was selected for the Cork minor team. He studied at Waterford Institute of Technology and starred on its Fitzgibbon Cup-winning side in March 2003.

He joined his elder brother Seán Óg on the Cork team for the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship 2003, which lost the final to Kilkenny in September. His contribution to the campaign earned him an All-Star award and the Young Hurler of the Year award.

In December 2003 Ó hAilpín announced his move to Australia to play Australian rules football for Carlton Football Club in Melbourne. This was considered surprising, as AFL recruiters in Ireland primarily targeted Gaelic footballers, and Ó hAilpín had concentrated on hurling.[1] Younger brother Aisake followed Setanta to Carlton, while elder brother Seán Óg continued with the Cork hurlers.

Setanta returned to Ireland in 2004 to play for the Irish team in the 2004 International Rules Series against Australia. During his trip, he also turned out alongside his brothers for Na Piarsaigh as they won the Cork Senior Hurling Championship.

AFL career

Originally placed on the rookie list, strong performances in the VFL for the Northern Bullants elevated Setanta to the primary list in place of Anthony Franchina during 2004; however, injury stunted his progress during that season. He made his AFL debut during 2005, but had limited game time, scoring a goal with his only kick — a set shot at the very end of the game.

Ó hAilpín was placed on Carlton's senior list in 2006. After playing largely in the forward line for the first years of his development, he was shifted to half-back in early 2006. He gained regular senior selection late in the season, going on to play in the final ten games of the season.

Ó hAilpín began the 2007 season playing at full-back, playing the first six games there. An injury to Cameron Cloke then saw Ó hAilpín replacing him as a back-up ruckman, which also proved to be a successful position, with Ó hAilpín's mobility an advantage against bigger ruckmen when the ball went to ground. He has also been rotated forward from the ruck position, making him versatile. In June 2007, Setanta exchanged punches with teammate Cain Ackland in a training match.[2] The event drew some media attention, however the club at the time brushed the incident off.

Setanta became a crowd favourite amongst Carlton fans. His nickname "Carlos" is derived from the similarity between Setanta and Santana, the surname of Mexican/American guitarist Carlos Santana. "Setanta" was the birth-name of Cúchulainn, hero of the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology.

On 6 February 2009, Ó hAilpín was suspended indefinitely by the Carlton Football Club for his involvement in a violent altercation with teammate Cameron Cloke in an internal trial match.[3] His actions were scrutinised by the AFL's match review panel on 9 February, and he faced being forced into anger management counselling.[4] On 9 February 2009, Ó hAilpín was suspended for four weeks by the AFL tribunal after being charged with a level 4 offence for striking Cloke and a level 2 offence for kicking him. [5] He came close to returning to Ireland.[6]

Ó hAilpín was back in the side in Round 5 for the Blues' game with the Western Bulldogs. In Carlton's Round 11 clash with Brisbane at The Gabba, Ó hAilpín played his 50th AFL game, the third Irishman to achieve the milestone. He kicked a goal and set-up Brendan Fevola for one as the Blues won by six points. Ó hAilpín played one of his best games against the unbeaten Saints on Round 12 clash. He kicked a vital final quarter goal and setup another to Brendan Fevola. Ó hAilpín's match performances only got better, and, for the first time ever, he booted four goals in a game against Fremantle in which the Blues sensationally came from behind at three quarter time to pinch an important win.

Before the game that would have seen Ó hAilpín play his first AFL final, the Irishman was surprisingly dropped by the Carlton selection committee before the Elimination final against Brisbane. [7]

See also


External links

Preceded by
Eoin Kelly
Vodafone Young Hurler of the Year
Succeeded by
Brian Murphy


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