Since the official AFLW’s inception in 2017 there have been over 20 Irish women to make the move halfway across the world with the intentions of pursuing glory in the cross-code sport.
While a handful missed out on eventually participating in the competitive games, there’s been a mixed bag of outcomes from overall triumphant success and friendships forged to horrific injury woes, but what remains consistent over the six years is that of a prerequisite of sensational entertainment.
Here’s the shared story highlights.
Paved The Way:
— AFLW Ireland (@aflw_ireland) February 10, 2018
The first to break ground and switch to the oval ball was Cavan native Laura Corrigan/Duryea. Donning the Melbourne jersey in the league’s inaugural year, the Jim Stynes number fellow’s backpacking trip in the late 2000s skyrocketed into a prolonged spell in Australia when a gaelic friend cajoled her into trying the sport.
2016 saw the teacher and intercounty stalwart become signed as a free agent and the rest is history.
— AFLW Ireland (@aflw_ireland) February 10, 2018
Mayo Gone Global:
AFL Women’s 2021/22
IRISH PLAYER #13 🇮🇪
Cora Staunton (39)
✍️ GWS Giants
AFLW Team of the Year 2021
Most AFLW Games for an Irish Player
Most AFLW Goals for an Irish Player
— AFLW Ireland (@aflw_ireland) July 7, 2021
Mayo legend Cora Staunton made one GIANT leap for LGFA and AFLW crossover kind when she signed for Greater Western Sydney for the 2018 season.
The four time All Ireland title holder inflamed conversations of the potential for such moves to become normalised and possibly detrimental to Ireland’s gaelic games by managers and onlookers alike, despite the overlap in seasons remaining minimal.
The professional status looming and ever hard to turn down, the LGFA poster girl’s relocation inspired many others to look into the opportunity.
Including Maritime County teammates Aileen Gilroy (North Melbourne) and Sarah Rowe (Collingwood).
Aileen Gilroy with a big hit this morning pic.twitter.com/oLSDEyV4Z4
— Ah Ref! (@RefComeOn) March 13, 2021
Ex Housemates And Now Collingwood Teammates:
Rowe and companion DCU grad Aishling Sheridan of Cavan both continue to make a splash Down Under, reaching the semifinals of the competition last time out with Collingwood.
Having lived together during their college experience they know each other inside and out, ever aiding their communication on the field for one of the league’s best outfits.
Good riddance preseason.
— Sarah Rowe (@SarsRowe) January 4, 2022
Silverware Winning Duo:
— Lauren Nic Giolla Phóil (@LaurenGuilfoyle) March 31, 2019
Ailish Considine made history with Adelaide Crows in 2019 when she became the first Irish and non-Australian woman to win the AFLW Premiership.
Shortly behind her was Tipperary ‘s Orla O’Dwyer, who, in just 2021, helped the Brisbane Lions duplicate that achievement. Earning Irish Player of the Year for her efforts, she sets herself apart as a master of LGFA as she tasted victory with her home county at the 2017 and 2019 finals and also a dab hand at the Australian pastime.
Newest Aussie Rules recruit Bríd Stack suffered a serious neck injury on debut which is set to rule her out of the upcoming season.
The positives is that she doesn't require surgery & is expected to make a full recovery.
Wishing you a speedy recovery! https://t.co/gIacZN7qwy
— Her Sport (@HerSportDotIE) January 19, 2021
Perhaps recency bias plays a part but one of the most brutal injuries that sidelined an Irish player in the AFLW unfolded with Cork’s Brid Stack in training camp with the GWS Giants.
Thankfully raring to go once again, the encounter is not limited to the 11-time All-Ireland winner, with other blows having impacted the likes of Leitrim’s Aine Tighe (Fremantle Dockers) and Dublin’s Sinead Goldrick (Melbourne) at some point or other, but both are also returning for the coming year.
Other complexities have also impacted Irish players fielding, Yvonne Bonner (GWS Giants), Kate Flood (Fremantle Dockers), Mairead Seoighe (North Melbourne), Joanne Doonan (Carlton) and Katy Herron (Western Bulldogs) remaining homeward bound for a variety of reasons ranging from visa issues, personal reasons and Covid implications at different stages.
AFLW commentators calling this a ‘Goal of the Season’ contender... gonna be some craic when Yvonne Bonner, in this kinda form, is parachuted back into the Donegal forward lines come the business-end of the NFL 👀 pic.twitter.com/cQkabTLMlt
— Elaine Buckley (@ElaineBucko) February 16, 2019
First Irish Woman To Transfer Team:
— Ladies Football (@LadiesFootball) November 25, 2017
Originally transposing to Western Bulldogs, Aisling McCarthy completed the feat of acting as the first Irish woman and non-Australian to transfer clubs in the AWFL when she joined forces with West Coast Eagles in 2020.
Occurring during the opening days of the trade period, the Tipperary star made the move before her third stint where she was united with a pair of countrywomen.
The Kelly sisters & Aisling McCarthy:
- Can AFLW
- Can gaelic
- Can chat with GOAT accents
The next question is can they help @eaglesaflw climb up the ladder this season? 👀💪
Thanks for the chat @aish_mac @grace_kelly94 @NiamhK090 @9NewsPerth pic.twitter.com/weGDGanIdv
— Bonnie Raynor (@bonnieraynor) January 6, 2022
— West Coast Eagles (@WestCoastEagles) May 1, 2019
That very twosome consisted of Niamh and Grace Kelly, sisters and more Mayo expats who swapped the West Coast of Ireland for the West Coast Eagles.
One year between them, the Kelly siblings credit CrossCoders with transforming their expressions of interests in realities and have utilized the skills they have learned from Gaelic football as well as soccer in their Aussie Rules outings.
— AFL Women's (@aflwomens) March 15, 2021
Antithesis To Blue For Aussie Rules:
Dublin’s Sinead Goldrick included in the match day squad for @MelbourneAFLW this Saturday versus Richmond with Niamh McEvoy named as a EMG player.
Watch live on the AFLW app (6.10am Irish time)
— DublinLGFA (@dublinladiesg) February 5, 2021
Dublin trio Lauren Magee, Niamh McEvoy and previously Sinead Goldrick all overlapped at a point with Melbourne FC, just a few weeks after they had assisted Ireland’s capital city to their fourth consecutive Brendan Martin cup in 2021.
Their competitive edge standing to them in Australia too, the group were integral to their side making the AFLW closing rounds last year despite Goldrick’s unfortunate injury.
'Girls Play Too 2: More Inspiring Stories of Irish Sportswomen’ is exclusively in Lidl stores until the 5th of September!
On hand at the launch was Dublin Ladies footballer and Melbourne Demons AFLW star Sinéad Goldrick, with her nieces Grace Goldrick McCann & Hannah Clare.📚 pic.twitter.com/BouvlwwitY
— sportsfile (@sportsfile) August 16, 2021
Clara Fitzpatrick on the last line of defence 👏 pic.twitter.com/BYkSmZtoMw
— St Kilda FCW (@stkildafcw) March 3, 2020
Following that McEvoy went on to announce her retirement from Footy, although the 31-year-old still remains undecided as to her Jackeens future.
Similarly, Down’s Clara Fitzpatrick returned home too, 2021 her third and final year in Australian.
Visa ramifications put a halt to her second season with St Kilda’s, but her home Mourne County and club Bryansford were ecstatic to welcome her back with open arms.
Back to 16☘️ from 17☘️☹️ @stkildafcw have placed Clara Fitzpatrick on the inactive list ahead of @aflwomens 2021
Clara has been seeking Perm Residency in Aus, but has had her app delayed due to ongoing impacts of COVID
She will be able to immediately re-join the list for 2022💪 pic.twitter.com/nroA0BdF9b
— AFLW Ireland (@aflw_ireland) November 26, 2020
NINE players on the line but new All Star Rachel Kearns still smashed this crucial goal for McHale Rovers against Donoughmore in the All Ireland JFC Final yesterday.. see the full game on the @LadiesFootball Facebook page. pic.twitter.com/KlmQ5NvwtN
— Jerome Quinn (@JeromeQuinn) November 25, 2019
Triple threat Rachel Kearns added the AFLW to her extensive repertoire of sports this year, sweeping Gaelic football, boxing and soccer.
Her rookie season fast approaching, the Geelong Cats will be anticipating big things from the 2019 Mayo All Star forward and WNL Galway United striker.
AFL Women’s 2021/22
IRISH PLAYER #14🇮🇪
Huge Congrats Rachel💚
We have our 1st Irish Player at the Cats!👏
Rachel, who plays LGFA with Mayo, & has represented Ireland at soccer, was signed ahead of the AFLW Rookie deadline💪 pic.twitter.com/Lk1jjV2lNz
— AFLW Ireland (@aflw_ireland) July 22, 2021
2022 Irish In The AFLW
The countdown is on until the contest commences at 8:15am tomorrow, with 14 Irish players on show for the 2022 display.
West Coast Eagles
Buzz & Excitement building for AFL Women’s 2022 ☘️
— AFLW Ireland (@aflw_ireland) January 5, 2022
With thanks to Georgia Ahern and Michael Currane (@aflw_ireland)