Cora 'back terrorising defences' and returning Rowe - what to expect from the AFLW's Irish this weekend

After a turbulent week, it’s all eyes on Round Two and the football itself.

WITH OPENING WEEKEND done and dusted, and a turbulent few days in between, all focus is now on Round Two of the 2021 Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW].

aflwr2 Sarah Rowe, Sinéad Goldrick, Cora Staunton and Ailish Considine are four of the 14 players involved. Source: PA Images.

14 Irish players are involved in the competition, with seven counties represented across eight clubs.

Nine featured in Round One, with Cavan’s Aishling Sheridan and Mayo’s Aileen Gilroy impressing in particular in Collingwood and North Melbourne’s respective wins.

We got a glimpse of their performances on TG4′s weekly highlights show on Monday night, while the brilliant Irish language station brought us deferred coverage from a match involving four of our own — Adelaide Crow’s victory over West Coast Eagles — on Saturday evening.

There’s much more to come over the coming weeks, with Sheridan and the returning Sarah Rowe set to feature in this weekend’s full match on Saturday evening: Collingwood v Geelong.

Fixtures have chopped and changed a little due to Covid-19 concerns in Western Australia, teams in isolation and what not else, but both postponed clashes — Greater Western Sydney [GWS] Giants v Adelaide Crows and West Coast Eagles v Fremantle — are back on.

Friday 5 February
  • Western Bulldogs v Carlton: No Irish involvement (8.45am Irish Time)

Saturday 6 February

  • Collingwood v Geelong: Sheridan and Rowe (4.10am Irish Time) — deferred coverage on TG4 at 5.10pm
  • Melbourne v Richmond: Goldrick, McEvoy and Magee (6.10am Irish Time)

Sunday 7 February

  • North Melbourne v St Kilda: Gilroy (2.1am Irish Time)
  • Brisbane Lions v Gold Coast Suns: O’Dwyer (4.10am Irish Time)
  • Greater Western Sydney v Adelaide Crows: Staunton and Stack (inj), Considine (6.10am Irish Time)
  • West Coast Eagles v Fremantle: Kelly sisters and McCarthy, Tighe (inj) (8.15am Irish Time)

Australian times and more details available here>

All games also available to watch live on AFLW app.

It’s looking like seven Irish players will feature throughout the weekend, though that’s subject to change as we await team news and any other fixture-related changes that may occur.

Below, just like last week, an expert on the ground in Australia offers further insight and analysis on our Irish talent.

Jason Hill, CrossCoders co-founder and agent to several Irish stars Down Under, previews Round Two, or Pride Round, running the rule over what to expect from the Irish contingent and their sides. 

Aishling Sheridan (Collingwood / Cavan)

Hot off two goals against one of the best backlines in the competition and now gets the chance to add more goals to her tally against a Geelong defence that conceded 11 goals in Round One. Expect Collingwood to win this one by a decent margin. (Collingwood were due to play Gold Coast but this was changed last minute to Geelong due to the change of Covid restrictions in Victoria)

Sarah Rowe (Collingwood / Mayo)

Declared fit for selection yesterday after her pre-season shoulder injury. Would be a handy inclusion for her speed on the outside. Kaitlyn Ashmore had a day out against Geelong in Round One with her run and carry allowing her to complete 17 disposals. Expect Rowe to offer a similar role if selected.

Sinéad Goldrick (Melbourne / Dublin)

The Dees take on Richmond in their first home game of the season and will look to go 2-0 against a Tigers side who struggled in their forward entries against Brisbane. Sinéad will look to up her numbers again with her run and carry rebounding off half back with another week of training under her belt. Expect another strong win for the Dees.

Niamh McEvoy and Lauren Magee have another week of training under the belt but a strong win for Melbourne in Round One will make it hard to push their way into the side. It might be another week or so before we see the other Dubliners.

Aileen Gilroy (North Melbourne / Mayo)

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aflw-cats-kangaroos Gilroy has been a real defensive star for North Melbourne. Source: AAP/PA Images

Back at home for the Kangaroos in Round Two, taking on a Saint Kilda side that knocked off the Bulldogs in Round One. Saint Kilda play a mix of tall marking forwards and quick players around their feet so expect Gilroy to have to do a bit more defending this week against a side who’ll put more balls high into the forward 50. She’ll be tested aerially against the likes of Kate Shierlaw and Caitlin Greiser, but will look to test the half forwards defensive efforts when she gets the chance to drive forward. Expecting another Roos win but it’ll be a closer one.

Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions / Tipperary)

The Q Clash (Queensland Clash) will be the first interstate derby of the year due to the last minute-changes. Orla’s move to the wing allowed her to show off her elite running against the Tigers in Round One and now she’ll be looking to show off her power and ball skills to challenge the Suns defence. A good win for the Lions against Richmond showed the league they’ll be pushing for finals this year and they’ll be looking to knock off the Suns to back this up. Expecting the Suns to bounce back from a poor second-half performance against the Dees and run this fairly close, but the Lions to get over the line.

Cora Staunton (GWS Giants / Mayo) 

A hard Round One for the Irish legend who didn’t register a score on an emotional day for the team. Back in Sydney, back at home and back to terrorising defences will be the plan for Cora but she comes up against a Crows side that was very impressive in Round One against the West Coast. Another tough assignment for the Giants who will be doing well to run this one close. Expect another Crows statement here.

aflw-collingwood-giants Staunton in action against Rowe in 2019. Source: AAP/PA Images

Ailish Considine (Adelaide Crows / Clare)

Solid performance capped off with a goal for Considine which she’ll be looking to repeat against GWS. A week in isolation meant the Crows had to miss a bit of training this week and last-minute relocate to Sydney could create a bit of a stutter in their performance, but expect Ailish to continue to add some quality to the Crows forward line. Adelaide should continue to show the league their back after an average 2020.

Aishling McCarthy (Tipperary / West Coast Eagles)

A solid start to life in Perth against a very strong Adelaide midfield and things don’t get any easier this week playing a Fremantle side unbeaten at home since 2018 and unbeaten in all games since the 2019 finals. Aish’s contest around the ball will need to be elite to slow down the Dockers on-ballers and she’ll want to have an effect hurting them the other way. How much McCarthy and her midfield partners win the first ball will dictate how this game goes for the Eagles. A lack of training this week will make this even harder for West Coast. Expect a tough day at the office and a Fremantle win. 

Niamh Kelly (Mayo / West Coast Eagles)

The speedster showed her adaptable nature playing in the forward line and kicking a goal in the first game of the season. Fremantle will be very aware that her speed over the top can cause them a lot of problems and you’d expect to see Niamh roll up the ground more to find the ball. When she does get the ball I’d expect to see a lot of run and carry from the Mayo product (and maybe more than 1 step before putting a bounce in). A tough game going up against the best tackler in the league in Kiara Bowers so Niamh will need to be at her best. 

Grace Kelly (Mayo / West Coast Eagles)

A uieter game for the older Kelly sister in Round One with 5 disposals against the reigning Premiers. Grace will be looking to effect the game more this week and use that impressive running capacity to get up and down the ground to run her defender into submission. Expect the game to open up for Grace in the second half where her classy skills can come to the fore when she can find a bit more ball and her teammates can hit her up on the lead. Safe to say I’d expect to see a very different Grace Kelly this round.


As Hill told The42 before, “The Irish aren’t just making up the numbers, they’re some of the best players in the league.” We should see that once again this weekend.

- Originally published at 6.15am, updated to include details on rearranged West Coast v Fremantle clash.

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Emma Duffy

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