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Ben Collins  March 6, 2013 8:44 AM


Caolan Mooney looks to handball during his senior debut against Fremantle at the MCG in round 14 last year.

He could be anything. I think he could be pretty special, actually
Collingwood's latest Irish import Caolan Mooney has the potential to be a special footballer, according to countryman and Carlton player Zach Tuohy.

The raw Mooney bobbed up to play a critical role in the Magpies' 20-point win over West Coast at Patersons Stadium on Sunday night, slotting two close-range goals in as many minutes to ice the game.

He also finished with nine disposals (six of them contested), four tackles, a goal assist and four clangers.

Mooney signed an international rookie contract with Collingwood in August 2010 and was officially added to the club's rookie list last year, playing four games in his debut season. He would likely have played more if not for hamstring and ankle issues late in the season.

The former Gaelic football star from County Down averaged just four disposals after being involved as a substitute in every match, but the fact he played AFL football at all in 2012 was remarkable given he'd played little more than a dozen games with the oval ball before his debut in round 14.

Recently turned 20, Mooney is a medium-sized forward blessed with great athleticism and is particularly renowned for his explosive pace.

Now in his fourth year at Carlton, Tuohy takes a keen interest in fellow Irishmen and admits to being "quite taken" with Mooney and his rapid progression at Collingwood.

"I knew of him when he came out, and I've heard stories of how quick he is and I've seen vision of him, so he's one I've kept an eye on," Tuohy told AFL Media recently.

"The fact he played last year in his first year at a big club, and in a tough team, was exceptional. He's very young but if you can break into the Collingwood team in your first year, coming from the Irish background, that's a pretty good sign of how good a player he could be.

"He could be anything. I think he could be pretty special, actually. Hopefully he gets more games this year and continues to develop."

"I think he'll definitely be a long-term player, unless he decides otherwise."

In the short term, Tuohy's Blues and Mooney's Magpies are favoured to meet in the NAB Cup Grand Final. In fact, if this clash eventuates the Irish pair might even find themselves directly opposed to each other.