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Ins and outs, more goals and a potential 'blood bath' - what to expect from the Irish Down Under

An expert’s view from Australia, with nine Irish stars featuring across Round Six this weekend.

WITH EVERYTHING TO do with Gaelic games still up in the air on these shores, many of the country’s top ladies football stars continue their season Down Under.

aflw (4) Lauren Magee, Aishling Sheridan and Aileen Gilroy are three of the 14 Irishwomen on the books of AFLW clubs for the 2021 season. Source: Melbourne/Collingwood / North Melbourne.

Round Six of the Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] season is underway, with Aileen Gilroy setting the tone for the Irish contingent in the Friday night game, helping her North Melbourne side to 35-point win over Richmond Tigers.

Eight more are expected to feature through the weekend: There’s one all-Irish showdown in particular tomorrow with Cora Staunton and Orla O’Dwyer going head-to-head as their Greater Western Sydney [GWS] Giants and Brisbane Lions sides face off.

There’ll be deferred coverage on TG4 of that one at 5.10pm tomorrow, with all games available live on the AFLW app, as always.

Clare’s Ailish Considine returns to the Adelaide Crows side for their meeting with Gold Coast Suns after her head injury setback, while Dublin rookie Lauren Magee also comes back into the Melbourne team in the absence of Sinéad Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy for their St Kilda showdown.

Cavan’s Aishling Sheridan will hope to help Collingwood continue their 100% record against Western Bulldogs on Sunday, while Sarah Rowe remains sidelined. There’s also deferred coverage of this match available on TG4 at 12.45pm on Sunday, with highlights of all on show in Monday’s usual 8pm slot.

Tipperary’s Aisling McCarthy is another potential returnee this weekend, having recently suffered a knee setback, coming back into the West Coast Eagles side alongside Mayo’s impressive Sister Act, Niamh and Grace Kelly.

CrossCoders co-founder and head agent, Jason Hill — an expert on the ground in Australia — runs the rule over the Irish contingent which will feature this weekend below, as always. 

Hill previews and looks forward to the weekend’s action, offering deeper analysis and outlining what we should expect as we tune in to each match, starting with a look back on this morning’s North Melbourne win:

North Melbourne v Richmond

North seemed to find a good formula last week with their win over Carlton which moved them back into finals contention and their commanding victory over Richmond this morning was another important one to keep them in the hunt. 

Aileen Gilroy was back to her best last week as she racked up 16 touches and it seems she took a leaf out of fellow Irish women Sinead Goldrick’s book as she locked down Katie Brennan & co in Richmond’s forward line. A North win, as expected.

Greater Western Sydney [GWS] Giants v Brisbane Lions

The Lions really have been the surprise package of the season and they put the league on notice last week knocking off Fremantle in Fremantle which is no easy feat. This weekend they take on Cora Staunton and her GWS Giants in what they’ll see as a very winnable match just down the coast in Sydney. Expect Orla O’Dwyer to continue her rise to prominence in the league and the Lions to win this one with a bit of ease to keep the pressure on Collingwood at the top of the table.

Adelaide v Gold Coast Suns 

This one could end up being a blood bath. Adelaide, at times this year, have shown they have a gear that not many teams can match and the Suns have really struggled in their second season in the league. Ailish Considine returns to the Crows side after she continued to recover from her head knock a couple of rounds ago with a fine Friday night performance in the SANFL [South Australia’s State Football League] last week. Expect a heavy Adelaide win.

Melbourne FC v St Kilda

lauren Lauren Magee returns to the Melbourne side this weekend. Source: Melbourne FC.

A tough couple of weeks for the Dees and their Dublin trio with back to back losses against league leaders, Collingwood, and surprise finals contenders, the Western Bulldogs. Things don’t get much easier as they take on a Saints team that is also sniffing around the finals places so expect a tight game down in Casey on the outskirts of Melbourne. Sinéad Goldrick had a difficult return to the side last week and while she’s absent this weekend through injury like Niamh McEvoy (standby), but the pair should come back stronger. Lauren Magee returns to the side after she was omitted against the Pies in Round Five, and a difficult debut the week before. Expect a tight game here with Melbourne just getting over the line if they can find their kicking boots.

Collingwood v Western Bulldogs

My only expectation for this game is that Aishling Sheridan will kick another goal. Such has been the form of the Cavan forward that it doesn’t sound like much of a prediction anymore. The Pies will be without Sarah Rowe for a couple more weeks as she returns from a shoulder injury but I don’t expect that to cause them too many issues against a youthful Dogs side which has picked up a healthy number of wins to start the season. A difficult run of games for them now which could see them start to slide down the table. Expect a Collingwood win in this one.

Screenshot 2021-03-01 at 10.42.40 Aishling Sheridan has starred for the Pies this year. Source: Collingwood AFLW.


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West Coast Eagles v Fremantle 

A great win for the Eagles last week coincided with a shock loss for the Dockers so this one should have plenty of spice added in to an already spicy west coast derby. This one will be played at the world-class Optus Oval and will prove a big challenge for the Eagles who will be looking to double their wins for the season. A lot of this will ride on the fitness of Aisling McCarthy who sat out their win last week with a knee injury she sustained against GWS in Round Four but we’d expect to see her suit up for this one. The Kelly sisters will also be looking to continue their return to form as Grace played her standout game for the season last week and Niamh returned from her finger surgery. Expect Fremantle to come out hard after their loss to the Lions last week and show they’re the dominant team in the west with comprehensive win on the large Optus surface.

Note: 14 Irish women are on the books of AFLW clubs: all those mentioned above, along with long-term injury absentees Bríd Stack (Cork / GWS Giants) and Áine Tighe (Leitrim / Fremantle).

Screenshot 2021-03-01 at 10.54.11 Grace Kelly had a good outing last weekend with West Coast Eagles. Source: West Coast Eagles.

Round Six results / fixtures

Friday, 5 March

  • Richmond 5.2 (32) North Melbourne 10.7 (67)

Saturday, 6 March

  • GWS Giants v Brisbane Lions, 4.10am
  • Adelaide v Gold Coast, 6.10am
  • Melbourne v St Kilda, 8.10am

Sunday, 7 March

  • Carlton v Geelong, 1.40am
  • Collingwood v Western Bulldogs, 3.40am
  • West Coast Eagles v Fremantle, 5.40am.

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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