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Programme that brought Irish to AFLW to hold first overseas camp on these shores

CrossCoders will run a camp in Ireland from 17-19 May.

CrossCoders product and Donegal star Yvonne Bonner.
CrossCoders product and Donegal star Yvonne Bonner.
Image: CrossCoders.

AFTER THE HUGE success of the 2018 programme, CrossCoders have announced that they will host their first-ever overseas AFLW camp in Ireland this May.

Last September, 11 Irish hopefuls went to Melbourne for an intensive week-long trial with Donegal’s Yvonne Bonner, Tipperary’s Aisling McCarthy and Clare native Ailish Considine all signing professional rookie contracts off the back of it.

The three Gaelic football stars have been successful products of the programme thus far, impressing with Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants, the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide Crows respectively.

Mayo duo Sarah Rowe and Cora Staunton are also plying their trade Down Under and making waves in the league’s third year.

Next year, it’s going to get bigger and better how and ever with expansion from 10 to 14 teams meaning the demand for players will increase. St Kilda, Richmond, Gold Coast and West Coast will all field teams in 2020.

“Since the inception of the AFLW it has been pretty obvious that clubs have to be very smart in the way they recruit for the competition,” CrossCoders co-founder Jason Hill said.

“The introduction of new teams for the 2019 season made this very evident with clubs already looking for further talent overseas and, if we’d managed to get talent in front of the clubs earlier, we would have seen more than five Irish players in the league this year.

unnamed (1) Hill with Ailish Considine. Source: CrossCoders.

“2020 brings four new teams to further add to a very crowded marketplace for talent meaning that, once you include the de-listed players at the end of this season, there will be 200 open spots on lists come the end of April.

“The reality is there aren’t 200 ready-made elite level AFLW players in Australia and now is the perfect time for any aspiring athlete who would consider cross coding into the AFLW to take the opportunity handed to them.

“The overwhelming success of our 2018 program has seen all three of our listed players make telling contributions to their teams and I believe this has further stoked the interest of the AFLW clubs from coast to coast in what we can potentially show them from the rest of the world.”

CrossCoders has been accepting applications from around the world once again since early December and huge interest from Europe — and, of course, the success stories from this isle — has led to the decision to run their first overseas camp in Ireland from 17-19 May.

“Firstly, it has been very obvious that sportswomen in Ireland have been very interested in the prospect of playing in the AFLW due to the success of Ailish, Aisling, Yvonne, Sarah (Rowe) and Cora (Staunton),” Hill explained.

Aisling McCarthy Aisling McCarthy. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“They have seen players they idolise or have competed with and there is definitely a belief that they could make the step into the league. A lot of our initial expressions of interest have come from Ireland and the UK off the back of this success.

“Secondly, to keep costs low for our participants it was a lot more cost effective for us to take us to Ireland than it was to bring at least 100 elite athletes to Australia. This definitely played into our thinking when setting up our plans for 2019.”

Applicants will go through three phases pre-camp and be assessed at regular intervals in the lead-up. Applications open on Monday, 25 February and close on 24 March with Skype interviews to follow from mid-April.

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Emma Duffy

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