Tadhg Leader, the founder of Leader Kicking, has announced the launch of the first American Football combine for elite Irish kicking talent following the establishment of a clear pathway for Irish athletes into the NFL.

Following a vote earlier this week kickers and punters are for the first time ever eligible for the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program (NFL IPPP) which was established to find elite athletes from other sports.

The NFL IPPP has already indicated that it is specifically interested in Irish players due to the world-class kickers it produces in sports such as Gaelic Football, Soccer and Rugby.

Leader Kicking is now helping the NFL to identify potential stars through a series of combines in Ireland later this month and in early October.

With only 32 NFL franchises and this being a specialised position the numerical impact on sport here would be smaller than from Australian Football, though the rewards for any players making it to that level would be far higher.

Dan Whelan from Wicklow became the first Irish born player in 38 years when he lined out for the Green Bay Packers in a win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. He could be the first of a new wave.

And with Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers playing into their 40’s in a more physically demanding position of Quarterback, maybe there is time yet for the likes of a Jonathan Sexton or a Shane Walsh.

“The change of rules is a game changer for kicking talent and there is now a legitimate and direct pathway for elite Irish athletes to play in the world’s biggest league,” said Tadhg Leader.

“We’ve already had interest from senior intercounty football and rugby and soccer professionals who are eager to test their skills on a global scale. This is a huge and unique opportunity for the very best kicking talent in Ireland.”

Leader Kicking was founded by former Connacht and US Rugby player Tadhg Leader in 2022 to create a path for potential Irish punters and kickers. The initiative has looked to select some of Ireland’s best GAA, Rugby and soccer talent over this period.

Despite its short existence the Galway native has already unearthed some serious talent with former underage GAA stars Ronan Patterson and Ross Bolger securing Division 1 scholarships in top US College programs.