Aishling Sheridan (left) celebrates scoring Collingwood's first goal - the first of the AFLW season.
Flying Start

Irish star kicks first goal of 2021 AFLW season and inspires Collingwood to victory

Cavan’s Aishling Sheridan was on the double, as Sarah Rowe missed out through injury.

THE FIRST GOAL of the 2021 Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] season was kicked by an Irishwoman, with Collingwood’s Cavan star Aishling Sheridan well and truly hitting the ground running. 

Sheridan had an opener to remember against Carlton — who were favourites before a ball was kicked — scoring two goals and inspiring her Pies side to a 5.3 (33) to 4.3 (27) win in front of a sell-out crowd at Ikon Park.

With 6,712 socially-distant spectators watching on, Collingwood survived a third-quarter Carlton comeback to open their season with a one-goal victory and send out a statement of intent.

Injury forced Mayo’s Sarah Rowe out of the Collingwood squad.

24-year-old Sheridan, in this, her second season, finally kicked off proceedings five minutes into the second quarter, converting from a contested mark close to the square.

Collingwood went on to score the next three goals of the match, and kept the Blues scoreless in the first half. It was 26-0 at the half-way point.

The visitors staged a brave fightback in the third quarter and trailed by just eight points at one stage, but Sheridan chipped in with another on the run after a stunning assist from Jaimee Lambert as their side finished strong down the home straight.

Sheridan was named one of the best of the day on the club’s website, where there’s confirmation of Rowe’s setback:

“Pie Sarah Rowe is battling a minor shoulder injury, and is looking likely to feature in round two,” it reads, the Kilmoremoy forward having struggled with, and undergone surgery on, her shoulder in the past.

aflw-blues-magpies Sheridan on the ball. AAP / PA Images AAP / PA Images / PA Images

With 14 Irishwomen involved, and seven counties represented across eight clubs, focus now switches to the weekend as Sheridan’s flying start nicely set the tone for the Irish. There’s none involved on meeting of St Kilda and Western Bulldogs tomorrow, but seven could feature on Saturday.

TG4 will provide deferred coverage [5.10pm] of the West Coast Eagles and Adelaide Crows game, where Mayo’s Niamh and Grace Kelly, Tipperary ace Aisling McCarthy [all West Coast] and Clare’s Premiership winner Ailish Considine [Adelaide] could all lock horns.

Dublin fans will be keeping a close eye on Melbourne in the earlier kick-off, with Sinéad Goldrick, Niamh McEvoy and Lauren Magee hoping to open their season with a win at Gold Coast Suns. 

The Dees’ All-Ireland four-in-a-row winning trio could be slow to start however, having just emerged from their 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine last week.

And in the early hours of Sunday morning, Mayo’s Aileen Gilroy is in action for North Melbourne against Geelong, Tipperary dual star Orla O’Dwyer and her Brisbane Lions side face Richmond and the legendary Cora Staunton opens her fourth season with Greater Western Sydney Giants on the road against Fremantle.

While Green and Red great Staunton may be the only Irishwoman on the field in that one, her team-mate Bríd Stack and Freo’s Leitrim forward Áine Tighe will be watching on intently, both ruled out with injury.

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