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Standout performances, nasty injuries and sanctions - 10 Irish stars feature in latest AFLW action

Niamh Kelly and Ailish Considine suffered injury setbacks in Round Two, while Orla O’Dwyer and Sinéad Goldrick were the pick of the Irish.

FROM STANDOUT PERFORMANCES to a pair of nasty injuries, it was a mixed weekend for the Irish contingent in the Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW].

aflw Mixed fortunes: Ailish Considine (left) and Niamh Kelly (right) suffered injury setbacks, while Orla O'Dwyer (centre) enjoyed one of her best performances yet in Oz. Source: Press Association Images.

While Tipperary and Brisbane star Orla O’Dwyer, Dublin and Melbourne’s Sinéad Goldrick and the returning Sarah Rowe of Mayo and Collingwood all impressed Down Under, two others are facing roads to recovery after injury setbacks.

Clare’s Ailish Considine, who won a Premiership title with Adelaide Crows in her debut season of 2019, saw her match involvement against Greater Western Sydney [GWS] Giants end due to a suspected concussion.

Considine shipped a heavy hit from Tarni Evans, who has since been charged with rough conduct (dangerous tackle) for the clash, and slapped with a one-match ban. (Richmond’s Sophie Molan was also sanctioned for striking Goldrick.)

The Irish player, who was taken off halfway through the third quarter, is likely to face 12 days on the sidelines under new concussion protocols, despite the injury potentially being “on the minor end of things,” according to the Crows post-match. 

Another Irish star in Mayo and West Coast Eagles forward Niamh Kelly is facing a longer spell away from the oval after dislocating her finger in action against Fremantle Dockers.

These setbacks come after two season-threatening injuries sustained by Bríd Stack — Ebony Marinoff, in fact, made her return for Adelaide against Stack’s GWS side after the ban saga — and Áine Tighe.

CrossCoders head agent Jason Hill told The42 today that Kelly — who’s not long back from a hamstring injury — has undergone surgery, providing an update on her situation in his weekly round-up.

An expert on the ground in Australia, Hill offers some deeper analysis and insight on the 10 Irish stars who featured in Round Two below, running the rule over how they fared overall and what to expect from them and their respective sides going forward.

Round Two results

  • Western Bulldogs 6.6 (42) Carlton 5.6 (36)
  • Collingwood 6.9 (45) Geelong 2.4 (16)
  • Melbourne 7.2 (44) Richmond 2.4 (16)
  • North Melbourne 5.6 (36) St Kilda 1.4 (10)
  • Brisbane 10.5 (62) Gold Coast 0.2 (2)
  • GWS Giants 2.3 (15) Adelaide Crows 9.8 (62)
  • Fremantle 2.11 (23) West Coast 2.2 (14)

Aishling Sheridan (Collingwood / Cavan)

First home game for the Pies and another win in the book. The Cats were much improved from last week, the Pies looked a little laboured in the opening exchanges and Sheridan was given much more attention than her Round One contest. As the game developed, so did Sheridan’s involvement which was capped off with a lovely pick up and quick hands for Rowe to have the space to kick her goal. Sheridan is quickly becoming a very key part of that Pies forward line.

Sarah Rowe (Collingwood / Mayo)

Back in the team and back blowing up the GPS. The ground that Rowe covers is exceptional and she doesn’t seem to have missed a beat in her recovery from her shoulder injury. 14 touches, 1 goal 1 point and 2 tackles is almost identical to her 2020 averages which shows how consistent she’s becoming. The Pies will be very excited to have her run and carry back in the side.

Sinead Goldrick (Melbourne / Dublin)

Joint player of the round for me with O’Dwyer. Speaking to ‘Goldie’ before the game, the Melbourne Irish contingent have only had around six on-field training sessions since being back in Australia, and she was given the job of marking AFLW poster child Katie Brennan — and boy did she do a good job of it. While only credited with 2 tackles by the stats gurus, her pressure and consistent attack on Brennan meant she only ended with 6 possessions and 1 point while Goldrick was able to hurt her the other way picking up 11 possessions. Goldrick is fitting in very nicely in the Melbourne half-back line.

Aileen Gilroy (North Melbourne / Mayo)

A standard day at the office for Gilroy. Plenty of bang and crash around the ball. That big booming kick to get the Roos out of danger and plenty of running. While nothing spectacular happened in the game for Gilroy, she kept the dangerous Saints forward line quiet all day in what was a very contested game.


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Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions / Tipperary)

aflw-blues-lions Orla O'Dwyer. Source: AAP/PA Images

Joint player of the round. Orla came out of last weeks game saying she wanted to show the competition a bit more of her run and strength and wow did she do just that. Credited with 18 possessions, 9 of those contested, and 345m gained in possession she ripped apart for Gold Coast defence on a standout day for the Tipperary tri-code athlete. On top of that her elite pressure game was on show with 5 tackles and numerous pressures on a Suns defence under the pump. Very much the breakout game for O’Dwyer who will be looking to continue her rise in the AFLW.

Ailish Considine (Adelaide Crows / Clare)

Took a very hard hit in the third quarter which resulted in Tarni Evans being reported to the Match Review Committee who have charged her with a dangerous tackle. Before that it was a quiet day at the office for Considine who racked up 4 possessions as the Crows dominated their second match of the season.

Cora Staunton (GWS Giants / Mayo)

After a hard Round One, the Irish legend was back on home soil in Sydney and back terrorising defences, though the Crows were too strong and GWS lost again. While she didn’t register a score once again, Cora showed a notable improvement this weekend and led the way in other areas, chipping in with 8 disposals and 5 tackles on another tough day at the office for the Giants.

Aishling McCarthy (West Coast Eagles / Tipperary)

Very unfortunate to be on the losing side after what she’s had to deal with this week. Wildfires, snap lockdowns, your captain missing the game after a freak accident and what can only be described as a game-day monsoon was McCarthy’s week but this seemed to not matter at all to the Tipp native. Firstly she kicked the first goal of the game after a lovely little chip kick inside 50 from fellow-Irishwoman Niamh Kelly and then her effort around the ball equated to 11 touches and 7 tackles against a very good Fremantle midfield. Credited by the commentary team for her cleanliness below the knees, it seems growing up in Irish winter conditions has helped her prepare for the AFLW!

Niamh Kelly (West Coast Eagles / Mayo)

The younger of the Kelly sister started the game in fine form with her pressure and attack on the ball being a highlight in an extremely wet Fremantle. She got the Eagles off to a flyer, setting up Aish McCarthy for the first goal before a freak accident ended her day. Going up for a mark, the wet, heavy ball came down wrong on her finger which required surgery post match. The Eagles will miss her speed and attack on the ball while she recovers and we hope to see her towards the back end of the season.

Grace Kelly (West Coast Eagles / Mayo)

Grace battled hard all day and really stepped up her game in her sister’s absence. Finishing with 12 possessions, she delivered hard on her ambitions to improve her effect on the game in her second game back from her knee injury which ended her 2020 campaign. 8 kicks, 4 handballs and 4 tackles had her in the top 5 Eagles players for the day as she finished with 54 ranking points and were seeing a much more confident Grace Kelly who was a constant thorn in the Dockers side. Expecting to see more and more from Kelly as the season goes on.



Round Three should be another big one for the Irish contingent, with TG4 announcing that they will provide deferred coverage of the Melbourne-North Melbourne clash on Saturday at 5.10pm [live on AFLW app at 6.10am].

Goldrick is expected to feature again for Melbourne, with her All-Ireland winning team-mates Niamh McEvoy and Lauren Magee also on the books there and hoping to put their hand up for selection. Gilroy will be involved with their cross-city rivals.

The other big match with Irish stars on both sides is Brisbane Lions (O’Dwyer) versus Collingwood (Sheridan and Rowe), while there’s three other games of interest to Irish fans and the 14 players involved.

After two rounds, the top six teams are all level on eight points after two wins from two, with Brisbane leading the way on percentage after their huge win over Gold Coast.

Round Two fixtures

(all in Irish time)

Friday 12 February

  • Geelong v Western Bulldogs, 8.10am

Saturday 13 February

  • GWS Giants v Gold Coast Suns, 4.10am
  • St Kilda v Carlton, 6.10am
  • Melbourne v North Melbourne, 8.10am

Sunday 14 February

  • Adelaide Crows v Fremantle Dockers, 2.10am
  • Brisbane Lions v Collingwood, 4.10am
  • Richmond v West Coast Eagles, 6.10am.

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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