Irish goalkeeping trio have put themselves in line for NFL contracts

Former Connacht rugby player Tadhg Leader indicates that the Irish kickers are now poised to receive contract offers from NFL teams. Among them are GAA goalkeepers Rory Beggan (Monaghan), Mark Jackson (Wicklow), and Charlie Smyth (Down), who participated in the NFL international combine under the international player pathway (IPP).

They each attempted 16 kicks in front of NFL scouts. Meanwhile, Darragh Leader, Tadhg’s brother and a former Connacht player, has postponed his trial due to a minor injury.

These Irish athletes, who competed against a diverse group of college kickers ahead of the April draft, are available for club approaches. As IPP players, they wouldn’t occupy a practice-squad roster spot.

While their performance on Sunday wasn’t flawless, it didn’t diminish their prospects. Tadhg Leader, who established Leader Kicking in 2022 to nurture Irish kicking talent for American football, expresses confidence that offers will soon be extended to some members of the Irish contingent.

“This is an event that every single kicker and punter in America wanted to be at. Only seven and five (of each position) got invited and we were part of that group, so the boys held their own, which was what I expected, but I also hadn’t done this before in that competitive environment,” he said.

“So it was a huge amount of nerves. We actually got off to shaky enough start. We missed a kick, three lads, earlier than we would have expected to inside very kickable range.

“But then we found a huge sense of rhythm where each of them went through and banked six out of six between 30 and 50 yards.”

“So initially the plan was to fly them back to Ireland tomorrow but as a result of all the interest we got, we decided we’re going to keep them down in Florida for another three weeks because the expectation is teams are going to fly them into their facilities for medicals, for interviews, for workouts.

“So, pretty mad thing to say, but I think a couple of the lads are going to be getting signed to contracts in the next two to six weeks. Potentially sooner but that’s the usual timeline for these things. It’s gotten very real.

“Talking about lads from Monaghan, Down, Wicklow and Galway dealing directly with NFL teams is mad.

“Rory Beggan looked extremely composed, Charlie Smyth and Mark took a kick or two to find their rhythm but once they found it, they hit really impressive kicks, which again was articulated by the NFL staff to me.”


More Posts

Where Every Game Tells a Story

Take the quiz and join the craic!


Sign up to our newsletter