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Irish speedster commits to Club

By Marc McGowan, AFL Media  August 14, 2018 5:42 PM

Welcome to the Den: James Madden The Brisbane Lions are excited to welcome Irishman James Madden with a two-year contract to the club.

Brisbane has added Irish speedster James Madden to its promising list of talent.

Madden will officially join the Lions' list in November's NAB AFL Rookie Draft as an international selection and be eligible to play next season, but has already committed to the club.

The 186cm athlete was a man in demand, but Brisbane always led the race for his services and previously visited him and his family in Dublin, as AFL.com.au reported in June.

Madden's 20m sprint (2.69sec) and agility times (7.76) at the European Combine in Dublin in December bettered the respective AFL Draft Combine records set by Joel Wilkinson (2.75) and Stephen Hill (7.77). 

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He and countrymen Mark Keane and Anton Tohill – son of ex-Melbourne reserves and under-19s footballer Anthony – then attended the AFL Academy's annual training camp in Florida in January. 

Madden is from the same Gaelic Athletic Association club, Ballyboden St Enda's, as the late Jim Stynes, who won the 1991 Brownlow Medal and played 264 games for Melbourne.

His elite athletic ability is what caught Lions national recruiting manager Steve Conole's attention.

"James was at the AFL Academy trip in Florida and I've really enjoyed (the Irish players being there) the last couple of years – and it's one of the reasons I attended that trip," Conole told AFL.com.au last week.

"There was a group of them, but he was athletically the best of them out there and he took everyone's eye."

Madden projects as a similar player to past and current Irish AFL stars Pearce Hanley, Tadhg Kennelly, Zach Tuohy and Conor McKenna, who excelled – or excel – across half-back.

There are 12 Irishmen on AFL lists this year, although one of them, Brisbane's Cian Hanley, returned home in February following the passing of his sibling.

The others are Hanley's brother Pearce (Gold Coast), McKenna (Essendon), Colin O'Riordan (Sydney), Mark O'Connor and Tuohy (Geelong), Ray Connellan and Darragh Joyce (St Kilda), Conor Glass and Conor Nash (Hawthorn), and Ciaran Byrne and Cillian McDaid (Carlton). 

McDaid went through the same process as Madden before signing with the Blues in November last year, while Nash made his AFL debut on Saturday against a Cats team featuring O'Connor and Tuohy.

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