Ready to go

Irish players at every club still standing for business end of AFLW season

There’s 21 Irish stars across the eight clubs contesting the four-week finals series.

THERE ARE IRISH players at every club remaining as the 2023 Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] reaches its business end with four weeks of finals.

Of the record number of 33 to fly the flag this season, 21 Irish stars remain standing across eight clubs in the finals series. 12 counties are represented, with four of the 21 hailing from Tipperary. 

Sydney Swans is home to four Irish players, with three at defending Premiers Melbourne — Dublin great Sinéad Goldrick and Armagh sisters Blaithin and Aimee Mackin.

Adelaide and Brisbane face off in the first qualifying final on Saturday, with Melbourne and North Melbourne doing battle in the other on Sunday. The winners advance to what is effectively semi-finals, with the losers contesting another round.

Sydney travel to Gold Coast in the first elimination final on Saturday, with the winners progressing to that de facto quarter-final and the losers meeting their end. Geelong host Essendon in Sunday’s second elimination final.

(The qualifying finals are 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd, with the eliminations 5th v 8th and 6th v 7th.)

Screen Shot 2023-11-06 at 14.06.49 AFLW. AFLW.

The finals series run from 11 November to 3 December, with the Grand Final taking place on the first Sunday of next month?

Which Irish players will feature that day?

Here’s a look at the 21 still in action and their respective clubs:

Adelaide Crows

Minor Premiers, finished top of the table. Play Brisbane at home in the first qualifying final on Saturday. Champions in 2017, 2019 and 2022.

Yvonne Bonner (Donegal)

A knee injury sidelined the 36-year-old for several weeks through her second coming in the AFLW, but she returned with a goal over the weekend. Bonner previously represented Greater Western Sydney Giants and welcomed daughter Bríd during her hiatus from the game.

Niamh Kelly (Mayo)

Her goal ultimately secured a top-two spot for Adelaide, they went on to be crowned minor Premiers. Unstoppable at full flight, Kelly has starred this season and regularly gotten her name on the scoresheet. This is her fifth campaign and second at the Crows, previously lining out for West Coast Eagles with her sister Grace.

adelaide-australia-29th-oct-2023-niamh-kelly-of-the-crows-during-the-aflw-round-9-match-between-the-adelaide-crows-and-the-north-melbourne-kangaroos-at-norwood-oval-in-adelaide-sunday-october-29 Niamh Kelly. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Brisbane Lions

Finished fourth. Play Adelaide away in the first qualifying final on Saturday. Champions in 2021.

Jennifer Dunne (Dublin)

Clocked up 15 possessions, including nine interceptions, as Brisbane shook things up at the top and beat reigning champions Melbourne at the weekend. In the running for 2023 Footballer of the Year after her fourth All-Ireland win Dublin, Dunne is a powerful athlete finding her feet in her first season.

Orla O’Dwyer (Tipperary)

One of just four Irish AFLW Premiers, O’Dwyer has been a revelation at Brisbane since her debut campaign of 2020. She has continued to excel this season, having hit the 50-game mark. The first Irishwoman named in the All-Australian team, she’s a renowned dual star on home soil.


Finished seventh. Play Geelong away in the second elimination final on Sunday.

Joanne Doonan (Fermanagh)

Scored her first goal in her first game of the season in Round Four. Started her AFLW career at Carlton in 2019 and returned to the league last season after catching the eye in the second-tier VFLW.


Finished sixth. Play Essendon at home in the second elimination final on Sunday.

Rachel Kearns (Mayo)

rachel-kearns-with-aoife-ni-cheallaigh Rachel Kearns. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

Has developed brilliantly at half back, racking up the disposals and marks. A relatively solid campaign, with injury previously plaguing her since making the move Down Under in 2021. Inter-county Gaelic football, soccer and boxing star back home.

Aishling Moloney (Tipperary)

Having been highly-sought after by AFLW clubs for so long, one of Ireland’s best women’s footballers has settled in seamlessly. Will continue to develop, worth keeping a close eye on the trajectory of her Australian career.

Anna Rose Kennedy (Tipperary)

Minutes have been few and far between for Kennedy through her debut season, but she should progress in time. Captained Captained DCU to O’Connor Cup glory earlier this year.

Gold Coast Suns

Finished fifth. Play Sydney at home in first elimination final.

Clara Fitzpatrick (Down)

Solid when called upon through her first season at Gold Coast, having previously been a key defender for St Kilda across two spells. Has battled through three ACL injuries to continue thriving at 33.

Cara McCrossan (Tyrone)

Has risen through the ranks and deservedly made her AFLW debut earlier this campaign. She moved to Australia, like so many others, and caught the eye with Casey Demons in lower-league competition, before ultimately being picked up in the draft.

Niamh McLaughlin (Donegal)

Has been key through Gold Coast’s run to the final series, contributing pace and goals. Another three-time cruciate victim, the 2022 Footballer of the Year and Donegal captain is also a talented soccer player and former Ireland underage international.


Finished second. Play North Melbourne at home in first qualifying final. Champions in 2022.

Sinéad Goldrick (Dublin)

Another incredible season continues for the Dublin great. Tough as nails, Goldrick has made significant strides since taking up the oval ball. The first Irishwoman to win an AFLW crown and All-Ireland. Missed Dublin’s latest as she stayed in Australia.

brisbane-australia-04th-nov-2023-sinead-goldrick-of-the-demons-in-action-during-the-aflw-round-10-match-between-the-brisbane-lions-and-the-melbourne-demons-at-brighton-homes-arena-in-brisbane-sat Sinéad Goldrick. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Blaithin Mackin (Armagh)

A real breakout season after a memorable first in 2022. An all-action player who has built on her Premier-winning debut campaign, and will look to hit new heights over the coming weeks. 

Aimee Mackin (Armagh)

Has linked up brilliantly with her sister, having been a long-term target for several AFLW clubs. An ankle injury has hampered her in recent weeks. Scored her first goal in Round Seven, another of Ireland’s top women’s footballers sprinkling her magic accordingly.

North Melbourne

Finished third. Play Melbourne away in the second qualifying final.

Ailish Considine (Clare)

Has struggled for minutes having replaced Vikki Wall at North Melbourne, the Meath star pursuing Rugby Sevens. But Considine is one of Ireland’s most decorated and experienced AFLW players, previously winning the Premiership twice with Adelaide.

Niamh Martin (Tipperary)

Scored her first AFLW goal on her second appearance in Round Eight. Another whose debut season is developmental, but the speedster is one to watch going forward.

Erika O’Shea (Cork)

Capped her second regular season with her first AFLW goal at the weekend. “Dream come true,” she beamed afterwards, having starred in the backs again after an industrious debut season in 2022.

Sydney Swans 

Finished eighth. Play Gold Coast away in first elimination final.

Jennifer Higgins (Roscommon)

An ACL injury cruelly ended the long-serving Roscommon player’s first season in the AFLW. Has undergone surgery and is progressing well with her gym-based rehab programme, as per the club’s most recent update.

Tanya Kennedy (Donegal)

Was instrumental as the Swans grabbed eighth spot thanks to a win over Fremantle that moved them ahead of St Kilda on percentage. Kept Freo’s dangerwoman under tabs and impacted offensively with 16 disposals and four clearances. Will hope to continue her good form as her star rises.

Paris McCarthy (Kerry)

Has worked her way back from a minor knee setback through an up-and-down first campaign. Excellent basketball player, as well as footballer, and was previously on scholarship at East Tennessee State in America.

Julie O’Sullivan (Kerry)

Has had her moments early on in her AFLW journey, the highlight being a definite goal-saving smother in Round Four. Started Kerry’s 2022 All-Ireland final defeat alongside McCarthy, but neither were involved in this summer’s championship.

Pressure off, but a big ask for Sydney — coached by Colin O’Riordan — to progress in their maiden finals series.

Week One Finals Fixtures

(All games available to watch on AFL app.)

Saturday 11 November

First Qualifying Final

  • Adelaide v Brisbane, 2.35pm (4.05am Irish time), Norwood Oval

First Elimination Final

  • Gold Coast v Sydney, 6.15pm (8.15am Irish time), Heritage Bank Stadium

Sunday 12 November 

Second Elimination Final

  • Geelong v Essendon, 1.05pm (2.05am Irish time), GMHBA Stadium

Second Qualifying Final

  • Melbourne v North Melbourne, 3.05pm (4.05am Irish time), Ikon Park.
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