Áine Tighe in action for Fremantle. Fremantle AFLW.
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'Ultimate utility player' Tighe and the other Irish stars in the Covid-hit AFLW final series

The finals series has been pushed back a week due to Covid chaos at Collingwood.

ÁINE TIGHE IS one of seven Irish players still standing in the 2022 Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] season.

The Leitrim star kicked a goal and played a starring role in Fremantle’s qualifying final win over North Melbourne on Saturday.

Freo ran out 38-point winners over the Kangaroos – for whom Mayo’s Aileen Gilroy impressed – at Arden Street Oval, and in turn, booked a preliminary final meeting with Adelaide Crows.

While the remainder of the picture is finally clearer after the other side of the fixture schedule was delayed due to Covid-19, Tighe and Ailish Considine of the Crows and Clare are safe in the knowledge that they’ll come head-to-head next.

A Premiership winner in 2019 and runner-up in 2021, Considine is no stranger to the final series, but this is all new ground for Tighe. As a player, anyway.

2022 has been her long-awaited debut season, after serious knee injuries ruined her previous two campaigns. (Freo had reached the 2020 preliminary final when the season was cancelled due to the pandemic.)

And she has certainly impressed and lived up to expectations; her versatility and flexibility key for the Dockers.

“She can flip front, back, ruck, she’s an ultimate utility player she likes to be known as,” team-mate Gabby O’Sullivan said after Tighe’s latest excellent showing, as a forward against North Melbourne.

The other Irish players still involved in the final series are Sarah Rowe, Aishling Sheridan (Collingwood), Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions), Sinéad Goldrick and Lauren Magee (Melbourne).

With at least one player in every team still in contention, it’s ensured there will be another Irish Premiership winner this year (O’Dwyer is a defending champion with Brisbane, joining Considine on the roll of honour.)

Collingwood and Brisbane had been in a waiting game to find out when their rescheduled qualifying final would be played, after the Pies fell below the minimum 16 available AFLW players and five-top ups needed to field a team after a Covid outbreak, which was exacerbated by injuries, suspension and close contacts.

But clarity arrived overnight, in the form of a statement from the AFLW.

Brisbane will host Collingwood at The Gabba next Sunday, with the preliminary finals pushed on to Saturday, 2 April. Melbourne will host the winners of that showdown.

The Grand final, meanwhile, is moved to Saturday, 9 April. It will be played in an afternoon slot at a venue to be confirmed; the highest-ranked team at the end of the finals series will earn the hosting rights. 

Irish players still involved in the 2022 AFLW Final Series 

  • Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions / Tipperary)
  • Sarah Rowe (Collingwood / Mayo)
  • Aishling Sheridan (Collingwood / Cavan)
  • Áine Tighe (Fremantle / Leitrim)
  • Sinéad Goldrick (Melbourne / Dublin)
  • Lauren Magee (Melbourne / Dublin)
  • Ailish Considine (Clare / Adelaide Crows).

AFLW finals series updated fixtures

Qualifying final

Sunday, March 27

  • Brisbane Lions v Collingwood, the Gabba, 12.05pm AEST, 2.05am Irish time

Preliminary finals

Saturday, April 2

  • Melbourne v Winner of Brisbane Lions/Collingwood
  • Adelaide Crows v Fremantle

Grand Final

Saturday, 9 April

  • Winner of Prelim 1 v Winner of Prelim 2.

A new episode of The Front Row, in partnership with Guinness, is out now. After Ireland’s Triple Crown win, Murray Kinsella gives us the rundown on his team of the tournament. Ireland international Sene Naoupu also joins the panel to chat about her career and look ahead to the start of the Women’s Six Nations. Click here to subscribe or listen below:

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