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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

Irish trio set to lead West Coast's line as Mayo Sister Act sign contract extensions

Grace and Niamh Kelly will return to the Eagles after impressing in their debut season.

Sister Act: Niamh and Grace Kelly.
Sister Act: Niamh and Grace Kelly.

MAYO SISTER ACT Grace and Niamh Kelly have signed contract extensions at West Coast Eagles, keeping them at the Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] club until 2022.

The pair enjoyed a successful debut season Down Under this year, impressing as they starred for West Coast in the Perth side’s debut league campaign.

And now, they’re set for two more seasons in the set-up alongside Tipperary star Aisling McCarthy, who officially signed in the 2020 AFLW Sign and Trade Period this morning.

“We’ll have an all-star Irish trio with Grace and Niamh Kelly signing contract extensions to remain with the club until 2022,” West Coast wrote on Twitter after announcing the arrival of McCarthy.

“Having Grace and Niamh there will be great,” as McCarthy told The42 ahead of her move.

“It’s great to have an Irish girl with you on the team. You kind of have that better understanding of each other and where people might run because of patterns in Gaelic football.

“It will be nice that we’ll be able to link up with each other on the field and obviously off the field, it will be nice to have some Irish people in Perth as well.” 

The Moy Davitts sisters returned to home soil after the early conclusion of the 2020 AFLW season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The older of the two, Grace, sustained a nasty knee injury late on in the campaign, and has been rehabilitating on home soil since her surgery in March.

It’s unclear whether the pair will play inter-county football for Mayo later this year, after manager Peter Leahy recently said his players would have to decide whether to commit fully to the Green and Red set-up or to AFLW  going forward.

The TG4 All-Ireland ladies football championship kicks off in late October, with pre-season Down Under slated in for early November.

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Elsewhere, Fermanagh’s Joanne Doonan has departed Carlton after her own debut season in Australia.

The 2019 Erne county captain was recently informed that her contract would not be renewed, along with those of Emerson Woods, Katie Harrison and Sharnie Whiting.

aflw-richmond-carlton Doonan facing Richmond last season. Source: AAP/PA Images

Doonan now departs after one season at Ikon Park, where she played two games as an international rookie signing.

“On behalf of the entire playing group, coaches and players, we would like to thank Joanne, Emerson, Katie and Sharnie for their contributions to our club,” Carlton general manager of women’s football Ash Brown said. 

“They turned up and worked hard whenever they walked through the doors at Ikon Park. In addition to that, they were great people to be around who positively influenced the culture of our programme. 

“We thank them for their dedication to our AFLW program and wish them nothing but the best for the future.”

With Galway’s Mairéad Seoighe also leaving North Melbourne earlier this summer, it’s expected the futures of the league’s other Irish players will be confirmed in the coming days and weeks. 

18 in total (listed below) were on the books of clubs for the 2020 season.

  • Sinéad Goldrick (Melbourne FC / Dublin)
  • Niamh McEvoy (Melbourne FC / Dublin)
  • Cora Staunton (GWS Giants / Mayo)
  • Yvonne Bonner (GWS Giants / Donegal)
  • Sarah Rowe (Collingwood / Mayo)
  • Aishling Sheridan (Collingwood / Cavan)
  • Aisling McCarthy (Western Bulldogs / Tipperary)
  • Katy Herron (Western Bulldogs / Donegal)
  • Niamh Kelly (West Coast Eagles / Mayo)
  • Grace Kelly (West Coast Eagles / Mayo)
  • Kate Flood (Fremantle / Louth)
  • Áine Tighe (Fremantle / Leitrim)
  • Aileen Gilroy (North Melbourne / Mayo)
  • Mairéad Seoighe (North Melbourne / Galway)
  • Ailish Considine (Adelaide Crows / Clare)
  • Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions / Tipperary)
  • Joanne Doonan (Carlton Blues / Fermanagh)
  • Clara Fitzpatrick (St Kilda / Down)

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Emma Duffy

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