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'The connection to Dublin holds great meaning, and it’s really special that we can continue Jim’s legacy'

All-Star midfielder Lauren Magee joins Sinéad Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy at Melbourne FC.

A NEW SEASON, but another big Dublin signing for Melbourne FC.

dubs2 Lauren Magee, Niamh McEvoy and Sinéad Goldrick will all join forces at Melbourne FC. Source: Melbourne FC.

Last October brought a landmark day as Sinéad Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy became the first Dublin players to join the Irish exodus to the Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW].

The pair also became Melbourne’s first female international recruits, and went on to impress in their debut season before the season was cut short due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Now, their Sky Blue team-mate Lauren Magee will join them at the Dees for 2021.

“It’s an incredible experience to be given the opportunity to play AFLW, especially for a club like Melbourne that has a close connection to Dublin GAA,” as the 2018 All-Star midfielder told the club upon signing.

Famously, Melbourne was the home of late Dubliner Jim Stynes. Stynes joined the club as a teenager before going on to make 264 appearances in a glittering career, and then spent time as assistant coach and club president after his playing days.

The beloved Irish-born AFL legend passed away in March 2012 after a long battle with cancer.

“Dublin holds a special place in our heart, given the connection to Jimmy and the Stynes family,” Melbourne’s AFLW List Manager Todd Patterson said last year, when announcing the double-signing of Goldrick and McEvoy.

“To be able to have our first AFLW international players come from Dublin is really special, as it extends that bond and continues Jim’s legacy.

“We’re looking forward to building on this association with Dublin, to share ideas and player development strategies. We see this as a real opportunity to continue to explore the best practices for our program.”

That, they certainly have done, with the recruitment of Kilmacud Crokes star Magee.

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And this time around, Patterson was just as thankful for that special Dublin-Melbourne FC connection.

“We can’t thank Dublin enough for their support of all three girls,” he said.

“Having personally met with [Dublin manager] Mick Bohan, it is clear why the three girls have had the amount of success they have had under his management.

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“They do miss National League fixtures whilst being here, so for Mick and Dublin to support them in pursuing additional dreams and experiences is something we are very grateful for.

“The connection to Dublin is one that holds great meaning and value to our club, and it’s really special that we can continue Jim’s legacy.”

Magee, Goldrick and McEvoy are now expected to link up with Melbourne for pre-season after the TG4 All-Ireland senior championship, the latter with “unfinished business” Down Under.

Should all go ahead as planned, they’ll excel in the Australian league and miss the majority of the 2021 Division 1 league campaign here before returning to Ireland to represent their county in championship action. 

The trio now follow in the footsteps of former Cavan player Laura Duryea (née Corrigan) at Melbourne FC. Duryea was the first Irish player to ply her trade in the AFLW in its inaugural season in 2017, but she had been living in Australia for a number of years and playing Aussie Rules at amateur level, so was not considered an international rookie.

Mayo great Cora Staunton followed suit in crossing codes from ladies football to AFLW ahead of the 2018 season, while many others have joined since.

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Emma Duffy

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