Caolan Mooney targets first team place at Collingwood
Former Down Minor star Caolan Mooney has travelled to Melbourne two months earlier than planned to prepare for his Australian Rules career.
The highly-rated 18-year-old has opted not to play for Rostrevor in the club championship because he wants to acclimatise to his new surroundings.
"I want to get out and start training full-time," said Mooney, who has signed a two-year contract with Collingwood.
"I want to put on a bit of bulk and get used to taking hits."
Mooney is following in the footsteps of another Down star, Martin Clarke, who is expected to return to Australia for a second spell having been with the same AFL club between 2006 and 2009.
Representatives of Collingwood had been following Mooney's progress and, after a successful trial, offered him a two-year rookie contract.
Mooney was one of Ulster's most exciting prospects, starring for St Colman's College of Newry in their back-to back MacRory Cup successes.
He says he is looking forward to becoming a professional footballer and has outlined his desire to make an immediate impression at his new club.
"I want to break into the first team in my first year - that is my expectation," he said.
"With Aussie Rules you maybe get one day off a week. That is something every boy dreams about - being able to play football every day."
Rostrevor have been supportive of the teenager's move and last Monday held a reception at their clubrooms to wish him well.
Mooney has chosen to leave early in order to acclimatise and familiarise himself with his new surroundings. The real work begins in October when pre-season training starts.