Land Down Under: Eilish O'Dowd (file photo). Ben Brady/INPHO
Irish Eye

Dublin All-Ireland winner and Offaly dual star join AFLW exodus

Eilish O’Dowd, Kate Kenny and Bláithín Bogue have all signed deals Down Under.

DUBLIN MIDFIELDER EILISH O’Dowd, Offaly dual star Kate Kenny and Bláithín Bogue of Fermanagh have all signed for AFLW sides in recent days.

Greater Western Sydney Giants announced the arrival of O’Dowd overnight.

The 2023 All-Ireland winner, who originally hails from Ballinamore in Leitrim, joins as a rookie and completes the squad list.

O’Dowd, 25, will follow in the footsteps of Cora Staunton, Bríd Stack and Yvonne Bonner in playing for the Giants.

“Eilish has been a star of Gaelic football back home for some time and after keeping a close eye on her last season, we are rapt to have her become a Giant for season 2024,” the club’s general manager Briana Harvey said.

“She has some very strong physical attributes that we think we can translate really well to AFLW and we’re excited by her versatility and her ability to play a variety of roles.

“Eilish’s aerobic capacity is at an elite level and seeing her tie the record for the ‘Giant Mile’ yesterday was awesome to see and we’re excited about what she can bring to the group.”

Geelong Cats confirmed the signing of Kenny last night. The 22-year-old has excelled in football in camogie of late for Offaly, DCU and her clubs Naomh Ciarán and St Rynagh’s.

The forward, who lit up last year’s O’Connor Cup third-level football final, joins Aishling Moloney, Rachael Kearns and Anna-Rose Kennedy at the Cats.

“Kate has been a standout athlete in both Gaelic Football and Camogie, and we’ve had our eye on her for some time and we are thrilled to be able to bring an athlete of her calibre,” Geelong assistant general manager Brett Johnson said.

“Her prowess in multiple sports speaks volumes about her abilities, and we’re eager to see how she adapts to the transition into AFLW.”

And Bogue signed for North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos last week. The 2022 All-Ireland junior final Player of the Match follows Erika O’Shea, Niamh Martin and Vikki Wall to North.

“We are excited to offer Bláithín our final list spot for the upcoming season,” North Melbourne AFLW list manager Flynn Loft said.

“Bláithín has strong athletic traits that will translate well to AFLW and stood out across her performances for Fermanagh, with her ability to set up play in the forward half and consistently hit the scoreboard. We can’t wait to welcome her into the program.”

A new record of 34 Irish players will feature in the Australian League in 2024, as per AFLW Ireland. 33 played last year, with Jennifer Dunne and Orla O’Dwyer helping Brisbane Lions to Premiership glory.

The 2024 season will get underway at the end of August, allowing for most Irish players to fulfil their inter-county duties should they wish. 

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