AFLW

Ailish makes footy history with Adelaide Crows

Ailish Considine of the Adelaide Crows with the AFLW Premiership Cup alongside proud mum Kay.

Ailish Considine of the Adelaide Crows with the AFLW Premiership Cup alongside proud mum Kay.

Asked to descibe the feeling of becoming the first Irish woman, and indeed the first non-Australian, to win an AFLW Premiership medal, Ailish Considine simply said: “unbelievable”.

“It doesn’t even feel like it’s real,” she told the Irish Echo after Sunday’s grand final win over Carlton.

In her first year with the Adelaide Crows, the Clare woman and her team stormed to a 63-18 final win at Adelaide Oval. Considine’s goal in the first quarter put Adelaide into a strong lead that they would not relinquish.

Five Irish women competed with AFLW clubs this year with Yvonne Bonner and Cora Staunton at Greater Western Sydney Giants, Sarah Rowe at Collingwood and Aisling McCarthy, who was nominated by her club Western Bulldogs for the Best First-Year Player Award in the AFLW Players Association Most Valuable Players Awards 2019, making up the Irish contingent.

In the competition’s third year, Considine became the first Irish import to win a Grand Final. Asked how it felt to have made such history, she said: “I probably didn’t overthink it but it obviously was mentioned. I saw it on media and stuff. It was in the back of the mind and I guess I just left it there.

“It’s an amazing achievement and I hope I won’t be the last because there’s so much talent back home.

“I think definitely a few more will make the trip out and give Australian Rules a go. It’s unbelievable but hopefully I’ll be the first of many.”

The triumphant Adelaide Crows team, 2019 AFLW Premiers. Picture: AFL

The triumphant Adelaide Crows team, 2019 AFLW Premiers. Picture: AFL

The 25-year-old had much support from home and her family made the trip to support her on the big day.

“It’s absolutely surreal, the whole weekend was just an absolute whirlwind. My family flew in on Friday night. They were here for the weekend and for the game. It was just an absolutely huge weekend and to come out with the win was just an amazing feeling and it was amazing to have my family there and celebrate with them, for them to be part of it as well. The support from home has been brilliant. My phone has just been hopping.”

She marked the occasion of picking up her medal by doing a little jig for the crowd much like Tadhg Kennelly did when he was Ireland’s first AFL Premiership winner in 2005.

“The girls were like, ‘You have to do something when you get your medal. Make sure it’s something Irish being the first Irish woman to win one.’ I had to follow through, I guess. I didn’t do it very well but at least I did it. I held up my part of the deal.”

The game was straightforward for Adelaide who have been in unstoppable form with a one-point loss to Western Bulldogs in Round 1 their only defeat of the campaign: “We approached it like it was just any other game … concentrate on your own game and try and get a good result.

“We did the same thing yesterday and that’s probably why it went so well for us. In fairness to the girls, they’re a great bunch of girls and they didn’t let the week get to them, the build up or the big game or the big crowd. They’re a privilege to play with. Our coaches and staff really kept us level-headed for the week as well. We were fortunate enough to come out with the right result.”

AFLW clubs only renew contracts annually but Considine knows she would love to back for the next campaign after she returns home to play Gaelic football for her club and county in the summer: “I would love to be back playing here again. I’ll have to wait and see and hopefully I’ll be back next year.”

Magpies sign Mayo GAA star for AFLW

Sarah Rowe will play for the Magpies in the AFLW competition.

Sarah Rowe will play for the Magpies in the AFLW competition.

Mayo forward Sarah Rowe has signed a deal that will see her join Collingwood in the forthcoming AFLW season. 

The 23-year-old follows long term Mayo team mate Cora Staunton (Greater Western Sydney Giants) and Laura Corrigan-Duryea of Cavan who played with Melbourne Demons for the AFLW’s first two seasons before being delisted recently. 

Rowe has represented Republic of Ireland at soccer and has declared her intention to return to Mayo after her five months in Australia to help her county in their bid for the All-Ireland. 

Rowe travelled to Australia in April, meeting with several clubs before choosing the Magpies. 

“I’m really looking forward to it,” she told the Irish Echo. “I don’t know exactly what to expect. It’s a complete new challenge for me, a new sport, a lot to learn but really looking forward to that aspect of it as well and putting myself out of my comfort zone.

“Football is what I grew up doing so instinct tells me what to do next and I would be able to help people around me whereas now I’m going to need a lot of help off other girls on the team and going to the manager with a lot of questions and stuff. It’s going to be a different role for me completely. You want to try prove yourself in one way but you need to learn all the skills first. It’s just gonna take time.”

Sarah had never been to Australia before she also visited the clubs Carlton, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Geelong and North Melbourne. 

“Collingwood was the first club I saw. I was extremely impressed, I thought they were so professional with their presentation. They made me feel very much at home very quickly.”

Rowe and Mayo were defeated by Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland Ladies final. This campaign saw them exit to Galway at the quarter-final stage: 

“Hopefully I learn stuff that I can bring back to Mayo. It’s always been my dream to win an All-Ireland so I would never turn my back on that but it’s great that I get to do both. Going professional is hopefully going to stand to me big time. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s very appealing for Irish girls at the minute.”

Sarah herself has spoken about the inequalities between men’s and women’s sport in Ireland. She was encouraged by what she saw in Australia in this aspect: “The girls get as much of an opportunity as the boys to be in an environment where they can excel so I really liked that side of it. In Ireland at the minute it’s improving an awful lot, things are looking up but it’s still not there yet.”

Sarah will arrive in Australia ahead of pre-season training with Collingwood on November 1. 

Eighteen other Irish women have arrived in Melbourne to try their luck at the Australian game.