It was a dream start Down Under for Blaithin Mackin. Tom Maher/INPHO
Pre Season Stars

Meath All-Ireland winners impress and Armagh star kicks first goal in first AFLW games

Elsewhere in Saturday’s practice matches, Cora Staunton was on the double and Aishling Sheridan shone.

MEATH ALL-IRELAND WINNING duo Vikki Wall and Orlagh Lally impressed, while Armagh star Bláithín Mackin kicked her first goal in their first AFLW games overnight.

They’re three of six new Irish players Down Under, with Erika O’Shea (Cork) and Áine McDonagh (Galway) debuting last weekend, and Amy Mulholland (Armagh) also in pre-season mode.

There’s a 21-strong Irish contingent set for the new season, which kicks off later this month.

Mackin was on target at the iconic MCG in Melbourne’s 86-16 practice game win over Carlton. Sinéad Goldrick also featured for the Dees.

Wall and O’Shea both featured as North Melbourne hung on for a 20-18 win over Premiers Adelaide Crows.

“Wall was lively throughout the contest with her lightning pace and booming left foot on show against the AFLW’s benchmark side,” as the match report read.

The 2021 Footballer of the Year also came in for high praise from head coach Darren Croker after touching down in Australia just last weekend.

“Terrific start, to think that was her first game of Aussie Rules and Erika’s (O’Shea) second game … it’s just so impressive the way they’ve gone about it,” he said.

“She’s (Wall) got really good speed and power and once she grasps playing with our shaped footy she’s going to be a really good, dangerous player for us up forward.”

Ailish Considine and Niamh Kelly are both on the books at Adelaide, the latter having made the move from West Coast Eagles this summer.

West Coast fell to a 19-13 defeat to Fremantle amidst thunderstorms; Lally, Áine Tighe and Mulholland all at Freo, and Aisling McCarthy catching the eye for the Eagles.

Cora Staunton kicked two goals in the Greater Western Sydney Giants’ last-gasp one-point win over Western Bulldogs. Fellow ladies football legend Bríd Stack joins her at the Giants once again this season.

Elsewhere, Cavan’s Aishling Sheridan sparkled in Collingwood’s 56-26 victory over Sydney Swans. Sarah Rowe is at the Pies alongside Sheridan.

“Aishling Sheridan was one of Collingwood’s most impressive performers against the Swans,” the match report reads. “Moved in to the midfield late last year with the injuries to Bonnici and Davey, Sheridan looks to be continuing that role in their absence. 

“Her power and drive was most notable and a real strength to her game. Additionally, she looks to have improved her running ability since last season, covering the ground quite well. She took multiple intercept marks in defence while also being integral in the Pies attacking ball movement. 

“Now into her fourth season of AFLW, the team will rely on her experience in the midfield.”

Joanne Doonan‘s Essendon side enjoyed their first-ever win, coming against Port Adelaide; Clara Fitzpatrick and Grace Kelly‘s St Kilda fell to a 42-16 defeat to Orla O’Dwyer‘s Brisbane Lions; and Rachel Kearns‘ Geelong triumphed against Gold Coast Suns.

McDonagh and Aileen Gilroy are in action on Sunday as Hawthorn face Richmond at the MCG.

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