The Women’s Australian Rules Football League (AFL) draft for the 2019 season took place this morning in Australia. The new AFLW season will see five Irish women take on the new season, as Tipperary’s Aisling McCarthy became the latest player to sign for an Australian outfit. McCarthy joins fellow LGFA superstars Ailish Considine, Cora Staunton, Sarah Rowe and Yvonne Bonner in making the move to Aussie Rules down under.
McCarthy who was the 2017 Intermediate Ladies Football Player of the Year, joined the Western Bulldogs after the club side drafted her as part of the 30 –player squad.
McCarthy joins Clare football star Ailish Considine, who became the first international women's player to sign for the Adelaide Crows. Donegal footballer Yvonne Bonner was also another Irish selection as she signed for the West Sydney Giants. All three women travelled to Australia as part of the Cross Coders programme.
Bonner said, “For this to actually come true, it’s like a dream, I suppose, to know that I’m the next Irish girl to come out after Cora,” the attacking ace said.
“I play full forward back home for Donegal, so I’ll play quite similar. It’ll just take a while to get used to the different ways of marking and stuff like that.”
As part of the programme, athletes from Ireland, France, the USA, Great Britain, Fiji and Canada took part in a training camp to show off their skills in front of club officials. In total, 11 Irish players were invited to participate in the Cross Coders programme.
The three Irish athletes will be joined in Australia by Mayo superstar Sarah Rowe who will kit out of Collingwood next season. Aussie Rules will be the third sport Rowe plays at the highest level after she previously lined out in last year’s All-Ireland Final for Mayo as well as also playing international soccer for the Republic of Ireland. The Mayo forward will play in Australia next year, after signing a five-month, one season contract with the AFLW side.
Cora Staunton, who became the first LGFA recruit to play in the AFLW, will return to the GWS Giants for the 2019 season having made a stellar start to her professional career.