After starring for Leitrim for years, Tighe had been impressing Down Under. Fremantle Dockers AFLW.
Hammer Blow

Awful luck as Leitrim star to miss 2020 AFLW season after confirmation of another ACL injury

Fremantle’s Áine Tighe will undergo surgery next week as she stays in Australia to rehab.

LEITRIM STAR ÁINE Tighe’s worst fear has been realised, with confirmation of a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament [ACL] injury ruling her out of the 2020 Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW].

Tighe sustained a knee injury in Fremantle’s final pre-season match at the weekend, and the club confirmed this morning that scans have since revealed severe damage to her left knee and that she will miss the season, undergoing surgery next week. 

The 27-year-old was forced off after “landing awkwardly” in the third quarter of Freo’s 17-point loss to 2019 Premier champions Adeladie Crows and her head coach, Trent Cooper, said earlier this week that the injury “doesn’t look great”.

Tighe had caught the eye in leading the ruck division for Fremantle through pre-season and had been tipped to make a big impact in the Australian league before she suffered the cruel blow.

There’s extra disappointment involved, as the Kiltubrid star had only recently made a full recovery from an ACL setback.

Since undergoing cruciate surgery in June 2018, the high-scoring forward had not been involved in the Leitrim inter-county set-up but landed an AFLW deal with Fremantle through the CrossCoders programme alongside Louth star Kate Flood last May.

“I’m disappointed to get it confirmed but it’s just one of those things in sport I guess,” Tighe told Freo’s official website. “The club has been great in giving me the support and helping me work out the logistics of everything.

“The plan is to stay here [in Australia] for the rest of the season, it’s been such an enjoyable experience so far and the girls have been fantastic.

“Hopefully, we’ll get on the road to recovery as soon as possible.”

While Cooper earlier acknowledged that “she is such an exciting player and has done everything right for the club so far,” Fremantle AFLW manager Darryn Fry added some kind words for Tighe through this disappointing time.

aine-tighe Tighe at the CrossCoders trial camp in May. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

“Áine was really looking forward to making her mark on the 2020 AFLW season,” he said. “It’s incredibly disappointing that she will have to sit out the season, after arriving from Ireland in October of last year.

“Áine had made a seamless transition to an AFLW pre-season and the Fremantle Football Club more broadly. We will support Áine through her rehabilitation process and hope to see her playing AFLW football for Fremantle in 2021.”

The42 understands that it’s likely Fremantle will resign Tighe for the 2021 season as they manage her rehab.

17 Irishwomen will line out in the league Down Under through the spring, with the opening round kicking off next weekend.

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