Irishman Ciarán Kilkenny arrived in Australia late last year with hopes of becoming an AFL player with Hawthorn, who had high hopes for the hurling and Gaelic football star.
However, it took just two months of training for Kilkenny, 19, to realise the AFL was not for him, with homesickness an issue in his decision to abandon a three-year contract after returning home to Dublin at Christmas.
"Achieving success and realising my potential as a hurler and footballer with my club and county will always be more important to me than any of the benefits to be obtained from professional sport," Kilkenny said in a statement on Friday.
“I've come to realise also that although I enjoy the game of Australian Rules football, it could never replace the satisfaction I get from the round ball or a sliotar (hurling ball).
"Sport has always been something I did for enjoyment and I have found that it's not something I can do merely because it's my job. The passion I feel for hurling and football is not transferrable to any other sport and seeing my neighbours and team mates happy when we do well is reward enough."
Kilkenny had signed with the Hawks as an international rookie in September.
Hawks' recruiting boss Graham Wright said the club understood Kilkenny's decision.
"While we're extremely disappointed, we respect and accept Ciarán's decision at this time,” Wright told the club's website.
“Ciarán transitioned into the club well, enjoyed all aspects of training and all of his feedback was positive, so news of his decision was quite unexpected.
“We understand that ultimately the pull of home in Ireland; his family, friends, football and hurling was a significant factor in Ciarán's decision, which was easier to accept having acknowledged that our club and its members demand a degree of commitment and dedication from every player on the Hawthorn list.”
The Hawks have committed to taking rugby player Shem Tatupu as an international rookie this year.
Tatupu cannot join the Hawks until the end of 2013 but has agreed to a three-year contract.