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Fermanagh All-Ireland winner seals AFLW return

Joanne Doonan has committed to signing for Essendon, having recently excelled in the second-tier VFLW.

Joanne Doonan is set for a second stint in the AFLW, having previously played for Carlton.
Joanne Doonan is set for a second stint in the AFLW, having previously played for Carlton.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

FERMANAGH ALL-IRELAND WINNER Joanne Doonan has committed to signing for Essendon’s inaugural Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] side.

Doonan, 27, is one of four players from the club’s second-tier Victorian Football League Women’s [VFLW] outfit, the Bombers, set to make the step-up once the official AFLW Sign and Trade period opens.

The Kinawley ace and former Erne county captain — who played for Calton in the 2020 AFLW season, returned home amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and helped Fermanagh to All-Ireland junior glory that December — moved back to Australia earlier this year to push for a contract through her exploits in the VFLW.

That decision has paid dividends, with Doonan rewarded having excelled and averaged 17 disposals, 11 kicks and six handballs per game through the Bombers’ midfield and forward line in recent weeks.

“Our VFLW programme has been building year on year and this season in particular is about two objectives – achieving team success and individual improvement,” Essendon general manager of football Josh Mahoney said.

“We have seen and are seeing both each week, with our team currently undefeated and a number of players having career-best seasons.

“We are excited to give four of our players the opportunity to represent Essendon in the AFLW and watch them develop further.”

AFLW contract manager Georgia Harvey added: “All four girls have shown that they can play consistent football at a high level during their time in the VFLW.

“They have all worked extremely hard throughout the year to improve their skills and have demonstrated that they all have the ability to take their game to the next level.”


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Doonan has worked closely with global talent agency and sporting education programme, CrossCoders, through her Aussie Rules journey thus far.

Co-founder and former Western Bulldogs star Lauren Spark has been appointed as a full-time player development manager for the Essendon AFLW team.


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Emma Duffy

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