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Rory Beggan in action at the 2024 NFL Combine. USA TODAY Sports/Kirby Lee/INPHO
American Football

Three GAA goalkeepers among players competing for NFL contracts in Indiana

Beggan, Mark Jackson and Charlie Smyth are among a raft of college kickers vying for inclusion in the NFL Draft in April.

IRISH TRIO RORY Beggan, Mark Jackson and Charlie Smyth were in action at the NFL International Combine in Indianapolis last night.

The inter-county goalkeepers competed as kickers as NFL scouts watched on at Lucas Oil Stadium, with former Connacht full-back Darragh Leader partaking in a series of punting drills today.

Beggan (Monaghan), Jackson (Wicklow) and Smyth (Down) were among a raft of college kickers vying for inclusion in the NFL Draft in April, and can be approached any time by clubs as they are free agents.

Those involved took a series of kicks from different distances and angles, some with the ball held by a pin and others from a snap-and-hold.

Beggan, Jackson, Smyth and Leader are among 16 participants in this year’s NFL International Player Pathway. The IPP programme was established in 2017 with the aim of giving international athletes the chance to ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.

The GAA players have missed the National Football League thus far, with Beggan’s Monaghan absence coming under the microscope on RTÉ League Sunday last night.

“Any team is going to miss a Rory Beggan. He’s a leader,” Dublin All-Ireland winner Paul Flynn told the programme. “He has been there, he’s ever present, regardless of whether it’s league or championship.

“It’s organising the defence, being the orchestrator of the defensive structure. [Monahan have] let in 11 goals, more goals than any other team across all the divisions. Of course he’s going to be missed. His free-taking ability, his kickouts, he has one of the best kickouts in the whole game.”

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