grand final preview

Munster final Down Under as Clare and Tipperary stars vie for AFLW Premiership crown

It’s Ailish Considine and Adelaide Crows versus Orla O’Dwyer and Brisbane Lions.

AND THEN THERE were two.

Two teams and two Irish stars left standing, we’re guaranteed a 2021 Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] Premiership winner as the curtain comes down on an incredible season Down Under.

aflw (5) Ailish Considine and Orla O'Dwyer will both feature in the 2021 AFLW Grand Final. PA Images. PA Images.

The question is whether it will be Clare’s Ailish Considine winning her second with Adelaide Crows, or Tipperary star Orla O’Dwyer landing another major title in this, her third sport at the highest level, with Brisbane Lions.

Either way, it will be a Munster final with a twist with both players named in their respective squads for tomorrow’s Grand Final at Adelaide Oval [KO 5am Irish time, live on TG4 Youtube and AFLW app, with full deferred coverage on TG4 at 5.10pm].

Considine is named on the Crows’ interchange after a frustrating season halted by injury, replacing captain Chelsea Randall who was omitted from selection after suffering a heavy collision last weekend.

O’Dwyer, meanwhile, is named to start for Brisbane, hoping to finish her impressive second season on a high on the biggest stage in the competition.

The pair of CrossCoders graduates are no strangers to one another, having played college camogie and football together in University of Limerick [UL] and locked horns plenty on the inter-county scene, and both have interesting back stories:

Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions / Tipperary)

O’Dwyer has certainly built on last season’s solid foundations, bringing her game to new heights in her second. Again, the Tipperary triple threat racked up impressive performances and bagged some crucial goals along the way, kicking one and notching 11 disposals against Collingwood at The Gabba last weekend.

The 22-year-old is a well-known dual star on these shores, having helped the Premier county to All-Ireland intermediate football final victories in 2017 and 2019, and captained the camogie side through their recent rise.

O’Dwyer, however, outlined her intentions and lofty AFLW ambitions late last year, leaving for Australia before her inter-county commitments concluded. That decision certainly paid dividends, with the Cashel woman at her brilliant best this season.

aflw-lions-kangaroos O'Dwyer facing North Melbourne in Round Eight. AAP / PA Images AAP / PA Images / PA Images

She’ll now hope to put the icing on an unforgettable week for sport in South Tipperary; Rachael Blackmore’s remarkable Grand National win aboard Minella Times still sinking in in the nearby Killenaule.

Ailish Considine (Adelaide Crows / Clare)

Considine is another who has outlined her AFLW intentions of late by focusing solely on her adopted sport rather than trying to balance it with inter-county football.

The Clare native made history in her debut season of 2019, winning the Premiership title with Adelaide Crows and becoming the first Irishwoman to do so. With her family watching on, the 28-year-old kicked a goal in the Grand Final against Carlton.

Considine has a golden opportunity to now repeat the feat, having been drafted into the Crows matchday squad after a turbulent season blown off course by a concussion in Round Two and a recent dog bite while out running.

Having played dual for Clare in the past, reaching the All-Ireland football final with the Banner in 2016 and winning a first senior county title with her club, Kilmihil, in 2019, Considine will be eyeing a Super Saturday for her family; her older sister, Eimear, in line for another big performance as Ireland face France in the Six Nations later on Saturday [KO 2.15pm, RTÉ Two].

As always, below is our expert’s preview, courtesy of CrossCoders co-founder and head agent, Jason Hill. Hill is agent to both Considine and O’Dwyer so tomorrow is sure to be bittersweet.


What a season it’s been and to see two of our players in a Grand Final is an awesome place to be in. Since we started the organisation to have a player in both Grand Finals –and the same player at that — is a testament to how well the Irish players have been adopted across the league.

Looking at this season, it’s been a bit of a fairytale for Orla who has come on leaps and bounds in her own game and now looks very at home in the sport and on the wing for Brisbane. The wing is one of the hardest positions to play in the game but she has taken to it like a duck to water for someone so unfamiliar with the sport. Brisbane have quickly become everyone’s second team for the way they play and the fact that any one of their players can turn up on the day and change the game — there are no noticeable ‘superstars’ in the side and everyone in their side is so important to the gameplan it can be anyone who hurts you on the day. There have been three AFLW Grand Finals and Brisbane have lost two of them. I’d say a lot of AFLW fans would like to see them pick up their first win this year.

For Adelaide and Ailish it is a very different story. A team packed with ‘superstars’ (although missing one this week in club-captain Chelsea Randall who will miss the game with a concussion) they’re the most successful club in the competition’s short history and will be looking for their third Grand Final win in three appearances. From Ailish’s point of view, this season would have been her hardest. A mix of being in the side, out of the side, and a couple of injuries has hampered what has otherwise been a successful season for the club as she looks to win her second flag in three years (last season there was no winner due to the Covid-19 outbreak). Coming back into the side for the Grand Final, after not being able to break into a side that kept winning, will be challenging in itself and Ailish will be looking to repeat her 2019 Final where she kicked a goal in a huge Adelaide win at the Adelaide Oval.

The last Grand Final saw 53,034 turn up at the Adelaide Oval to watch their home side romp their way to victory beating Carlton 10.3 (63) to 2.6 (18) and we’re expecting a very Adelaide-centric crowd as the minor-Premiers look to turn regular-season form into another flag for the club.

It’s hard to look past an Adelaide win when thinking with the head on this one but the heart says we’re in store for a fairytale Brisbane win, giving O’Dwyer her third sporting code major title.

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