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Top Cork, Galway and Meath stars set to travel to AFLW combine in Melbourne

16 Irish players have been confirmed for the 2020 season thus far.

THREE MORE LEADING ladies footballers are Australia-bound to chase coveted AFLW contracts, with Cork, Galway and Meath stars heading to a combine in Melbourne next month.

ladies aflw Olivia Divilly, Saoirse Noonan and Vikki Wall. Source: Inpho.

The42 understands that Rebels sharpshooter Saoirse Noonan, and Galway and Meath 2019 All-Ireland finalists Olivia Divilly and Vikki Wall will attend the upcoming combine.

Since making her senior inter-county debut in last year’s Munster final, 20-year-old Noonan has been a revelation for Cork, as effective from the bench as she is as a starter.

Last year, the Nemo Rangers star  — also a talented soccer player — fired a 5-11 total in six championship matches as a second-half substitute. This year, while she featured as a starter more and more, her scoring exploits were equally as impressive as the Leesiders lifted the Division 1 league title and reached the championship semi-final.

Divilly (23) was a standout performer for Galway week in, week out this summer as they reached a first All-Ireland senior decider since 2005. The Kilkerrin-Clonberne forward’s athleticism and sheer physicality was ever present, her cutting runs causing serious problems for opposition, as were her scoring efforts.

Her exploits were recognised with an All-Star nomination earlier this week.

And likewise, Wall (21) has been a constant threat in the Meath forward line, leading the Royals to a second consecutive All-Ireland final where they fell short to 2017 champions Tipperary two weeks ago.

The Dunboyne ace accounted for 0-4 (all from play) of Meath’s 1-14, but Shane Ronayne’s Tipperary proved too strong at the death.

According to AFL.com.au, the combine will take place on 1 to 2 October.

“As far as I’m aware they’re going over to compete in the National Combine,” AFLW agent and CrossCoders co-founder Jason Hill told The42.

“They’ve been on all the information the AFL has been sharing about the combine and they’ve sent mini-profiles of each player to the clubs.

“The clubs will now make an assessment on the players at the combine and look to interview them if they see them matching a need. They’ll be competing on the day against the best U18 players”

With clubs nominating players they wish to see at the combine and a set number of nominations required for a player to make the cut, the full list of attendees was recently released to clubs. The Australia-based U18s were announced first, with the top rising stars who came through state academies invited.

VFLW2019_GF_Footscray_9Curley Curley (centre) celebrating her side's VFLW win last weekend. Source: Shane Barrie.

It’s understood that Kildare native Aisling Curley, who helped Collingwood to Victorian Football League Women’s [VFLW] — the AFLW’s second string — Grand Final glory on Sunday, has been nominated but wasn’t selected in the 10 players for the state combine meaning there will be no further Irish representation present.

With a lot of clubs having their business done and lists finalised ahead of the AFLW draft, which is pencilled in for 22 October, the timing may not be the best though.

16 Irish players have been confirmed for the 2020 AFLW season thus far, with five flying the flag last year in Mayo duo Cora Staunton (GWS Giants) and Sarah Rowe (Collingwood), Donegal forward Yvonne Bonner (GWS Giants), Tipperary’s Aisling McCarthy (Western Bulldogs) and Clare native Ailish Considine (Adelaide Crows), whose side won the Grand Final.

They have all re-signed, while Mayo’s Kelly sisters Niamh and Grace (West Coast Eagles) and team-mate Aileen Gilroy (North Melbourne), Tipperary’s Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions), Donegal defender Katy Herron (Western Bulldogs), Louth star Kate Flood (Fremantle), Cavan’s Aishling Sheridan (Collingwood), Leitrim native Áine Tighe (Fremantle), Galway’s Mairead Seoighe (North Melbourne) and Fermanagh’s Joanne Doonan (Carlton Blues) have all landed deals for the upcoming season.

Down’s Clara Fitzpatrick has also been elevated to St Kilda’s AFLW list after an impressive VFLW season at Southern Saints. 

Additionally, ‘more than 10′ AFLW teams are reportedly tracking Tipperary star and 2019 All-Ireland intermediate final Player of the Match Aisling Moloney.

It’s believed 21-year-old Moloney would not contemplate making the move to Australia until at least the 2021 season, however, with college commitments to be fulfilled on home soil.

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Emma Duffy

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