|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2014)|
|Full name||Martin Clarke|
|Date of birth||13 November 1987|
|Place of birth||Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland|
|Original team||An Ríocht GAA Club,
Kilkeel, County Down
|Draft||40th overall, 2006 Rookie Draft
|Height/Weight||181 cm / 84 kg|
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 2013 season.
Martin "Marty" Clarke (Irish: Máirtín Ó Cléirigh; born 13 November 1987) is a Gaelic and Australian rules footballer from Cranfield Point, County Down, Northern Ireland who currently plays for Collingwood in the Australian Football League.
Clarke was an outstanding underage Gaelic football talent. He starred for Down GAA Minors, helping them to the 2005 All-Ireland Minor Football Championship and also played a large part in bringing his school, St Louis, Kilkeel, to 2 MacRory Cup finals in 2005 and 2006, and also to a MacLarnon Cup and an All Ireland Colleges 'B' title in as many years. He was part of the Down under-21 team that won an Ulster Championship in 2005. Clarke scored 3 goals and 20 points in an under 14 club game and 18 points in a schools game.
He was invited to an AFL training camp in July 2006. He impressed scouts even more and on 22 August 2006 signed a contract with Collingwood Football Club, becoming the first ever truly international rookie for the club.
In October 2007, when Clarke returned home from Australia for a three week holiday and during that time helped his local club An Ríocht lift its first ever Down Division One league title, defeating Kilcoo in the final. Clarke scored 2–1 in the final, which was played under lights in Pairc Esler, Newry on 26 October 2007. In 2008 Clarke also lined out for An Ríocht. Clarke has been dubbed by Collingwood assistant coach Guy McKenna as "the Irish equivalent of Nathan Buckley."
Clarke was developed through Collingwood's VFL affiliate the Williamstown Football Club, where he played a number of games semi-professionally as a rookie before debuting at AFL level. It was there that he made a name for himself as a quick midfielder with an ability to accumulate a high number of possessions. He was not only able to adapt extremely well to the oval ball, but brought across some gaelic football skills which made publicity, particularly his ability to toe poke the oval ball off the ground into his hands. On one such occasion, he was able to do so at full speed in wet conditions while being closely pursued by an opponent which was featured on Before the Game.
"He was probably the stand-out player from the point of view that he had never played a game of Aussie Rules before.
"It just showed that he has an enormous amount of will and want, and he had put in a lot of hard work. It was fantastic for him today – a good step.
Clarke made his debut in a premiership season game on Saturday, 23 June 2007, also against the Swans. Again, his game was outstanding, with 20 possessions in front of a crowd of 64,222 at Telstra Stadium in Sydney. Some sources have even called his performance "one of the best debuts in the history of the game". 
His second game came in Round 13 against Hawthorn on 1 July 2007. In another promising display, Clarke picked up nineteen possessions and three goals, playing on former brownlow medallist Shane Crawford in a sell out crowd in front of 50,248 at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne. For his 3 goal near best on ground performance earned him a nomination in the NAB AFL Rising Star award in just his second game and a year to the date that he first arrived in Melbourne.
After his sensational debut year, Clarke started 2008 in a run of poor form which saw him dropped from the Collingwood side to play the Brisbane Lions. He would not return to the side for several weeks later and combined with a run of injuries did not recapture his 2007 form. Clarke was ruled out of representing Ireland in the 2008 International Rules Series due to an ankle injury.
Return to Ireland
13 November 1987 |
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
Clarke announced his retirement from AFL on 24 September 2009, citing his desire to return home and to play Gaelic football. He said that ultimately it was the desire to play Gaelic football that prompted him to decline the offer of another three-year contract in Australia and that "I could easily have stayed. But I think this is what I want to do more. I am more passionate about playing for Down than playing for Collingwood."
In the 2010 season, Clarke succeeded in establishing himself in the Down senior team. Down made it to the National League Div 2 final but were beaten by Armagh in Croke Park. His poor form in the early stages was followed by a series of increasingly influential performances as Down reached the Ulster championship semi-final and recovered from defeat in this game to successfully make their way through the qualifiers. In the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-finals they recorded a surprise win over Kerry before narrowly overcoming Kildare in the semi-finals setting up and All Ireland final meeting with Cork Downs first since 1994. In the end however Down ended up on the losing end of a 0–16 to 0–15 scoreline, Clarke ended the game scoring 0–03.
- 1 Ulster Under 21 Championship (2005)
- 1 All Ireland Minor Championship (2005)
- 1 All Star 2010
- 1 Irish News All Star (2010)
- 1 Irish News All Star Football of The Year (2010)
- 1 Vodafone Player of The Month August (2010)
- 2 Ulster Colleges All Stars (2005, 2006)
- 1 Down Football League Division 2 (2009)
- 1 Down Football League Division 1 (2007)
- 1 Down Minor B Football Championship (2004)
- 1 All-Ireland B Colleges Football Championship (2004)
- 1 MacLarnon Cup (2004)
Return to AFL
On 10 October 2011, Marty Clarke was traded from Greater Western Sydney Football Club to Collingwood in the 2011 AFL Draft, marking his return to the AFL. Clarke opted not to play in the International Rules Series between Ireland and Australia, instead completing the start of preseason training with his new team.
- Martin Clarke's profile on the official website of the Collingwood Football Club
- Martin Clarke's statistics from AFL Tables
- An Ríocht – GAA Club Co Down
- Down GAA Online – Ireland
- A Collingwood TV interview with Clarke on youtube
- BBC documentary from 2007 (30 minutes long) on Clarke's first year in Australia