Going again: Orla O'Dwyer. AFL Ireland Women's.
Flying the flag

Tipp's Premiership champion O'Dwyer among Irish stars returning to AFLW next season

Dublin duo Sinéad Goldrick and Lauren Magee will also head back to Melbourne.

TIPPERARY TRIPLE-THREAT ORLA O’Dwyer has been rewarded with a new Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] contract. 

The Brisbane Lions star was central as her side won the Premiership in April, beating Adelaide Crows by 18 points in the Grand Final.

That day, O’Dwyer became the second Irishwoman to win the crown, with Adelaide and Clare’s Ailish Considine first doing so in 2019.

While O’Dwyer is back on home soil now and facing into a summer of dual commitments with the Premier county — they face Kilkenny in Sunday’s Division 1 camogie league semi-final, and Westmeath in Saturday’s Division 1 football relegation play-off — she’ll return to Brisbane later this year, ahead of her third season in the AFLW.

“22-year-old Irish speedster O’Dwyer took the league by storm in just her second season of football, becoming one of the premier wingers in the competition on her way to a second-place finish in the Lions Club Champion awards, the tightest vote count in the club’s history,” a statement reads, along with high praise from Premiership winning boss Craig Starcevich, as the Lions also announced the re-signing of young guns Courtney Hodder and Indy Tahua.

“Orla has shown great improvement in her second year as one of the competitions more dynamic wingers.”

That individual recognition and Best and Fairest runner-up award was huge for O’Dwyer, who enjoyed a stunning and consistent individual season, chipping in with a few goals along the way.

Born in Sydney, so holding an Australian passport, and playing her club football with Boherlahan and camogie with Cashel, the 2017 and 2019 All-Ireland intermediate ladies football champion’s third campaign was undoubtedly her best yet.

It was also confirmed today that Dublin duo Sinéad Goldrick and Lauren Magee have committed to returning to Melbourne FC for the 2022 season, Goldrick’s third and Magee’s second at the club.

The former, a seven-time All-Star, is currently rehabbing a hamstring injury post-surgery, one which derailed her AFLW season, while Magee is back in the Sky Blues fold along with team-mate Niamh McEvoy, who recently called time on her AFLW career.

aflw-bulldogs-demons Sinéad Goldrick. AAP / PA Images AAP / PA Images / PA Images

Earlier this week, Adelaide announced that Considine would spend a fourth season at the Crows, as the Kilmihil native put pen to paper on a one-year extension.

2021 was a difficult season for the 28-year-old, hampered by injury as a concussion and a dog bite kept her out of the side for several weeks. Considine was recalled for the Grand Final, and impressed in the defeat.

Further announcements are expected in the coming days. The42 understands that several other Irish players — 14 were involved in the 2021 season — are on two-year contracts, and will return for another campaign. 

The league is set to expand over the coming seasons, with the 2022 edition — season six –  due to begin in December 2021 with the Grand Final to be held in mid-March, before the men’s season begins. The competition will increase from nine rounds to 10, plus three weeks of finals.

Over the past few years, the AFLW campaign opened in late January and ran until mid-April, allowing for the Irish contingent — much of whom play inter-county ladies football — to return to these shores for the tail end of the league and for the entire TG4 All-Ireland championship.

Covid-hit 2020 aside, they normally travelled Down Under in October/November for pre-season, so it’s expected that will be earlier this coming autumn, throwing up the potential of code clashes.

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