irish in aflw

Dublin-Mayo rivalry renewed and Tipp team-mates go head-to-head in Australia this weekend

What to expect from the AFLW’s Irish stars in Round Three, courtesy of an expert on the ground Down Under.

WHILE THOSE ON the ground in Australia will be focusing on the cross-city rivalry in tomorrow’s “blockbuster match of Round Three” in the Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW], another one come will come to mind for the Irish.

aflw (1) Inpho / PA Images. Orla O'Dwyer, Aisling McCarthy, Aileen Gilroy and Niamh McEvoy are all set for a big weekend of AFLW action. Inpho / PA Images. / PA Images.

Melbourne and North Melbourne go head-to-head at Casey Fields in the early hours here, with three Dublin stars on the books at the former, and a Mayo woman playing an integral part for the latter.

Having impressed through the early stages of her second season at the Demons so far, Sinéad Goldrick starts in the half-back line once again, while fellow multi-All-Ireland winner Niamh McEvoy is set for her first involvement in the 2021 competition off the interchange bench.

Lauren Magee is the third Dubliner at the club, but the rookie’s road to her highly-anticipated debut is being phased after a whirlwind few weeks.

Aileen Gilroy, meanwhile, starts for North in the all-Melbourne affair, both sides coming in with two wins from two under their belts.

Deferred coverage of big one, in terms of Irish involvement, will be shown on TG4 at 5.10pm tomorrow evening, though fans here will be keeping a close eye on four other games.

The Covid-19 pandemic may be threatening, with Victoria in another lockdown and fixtures chopped and changed over the past few weeks, but the AFLW continues.

Cora Staunton and Bríd Stack (injured) will hope to get off the mark as their Greater Western Sydney [GWS] Giants side face Gold Coast Suns tomorrow, while Clare’s Ailish Considine and Áine Tighe will, like Stack, be watching on from the sidelines as their respective Adelaide Crows and Fremantle Dockers sides face off on Sunday.

Shortly after, it’s the turn of Collingwood’s Irish duo Sarah Rowe (Mayo) and Aishling Sheridan (Cavan) against Richmond, while two Tipperary team-mates go head-to-head on Monday.

Aisling McCarthy’s West Coast Eagles face Orla O’Dwyer’s Brisbane Lions, with Mayo star Grace Kelly also lining for West Coast and her injured sister, Niamh, watching on.

Of the 14 Irish players involved in the league, nine will feature this weekend, with four counties represented on the field across six clubs. 

And as always, CrossCoders co-founder and agent to several Irish players Jason Hill — our expert in Oz — previews the round, running the rule over what to expect from the Irish contingent and their sides while offering some deeper insight and analysis. 

Cora Staunton (GWS Giants / Mayo)

aflw-giants-cats AAP / PA Images Staunton will hope to open her scoring account this weekend. AAP / PA Images / PA Images

A very favourable match up for the Mayo legend as the Giants take on the Suns. Hot off the back of a very one-sided affair for the Suns against O’Dwyer’s Brisbane, it’ll be interesting to see if they can bounce back after starting off the season very slow. Expect Staunton to get a few chances to open her account for the season and the Giants to get their first win on the board after two very difficult opening fixtures.

Sinéad Goldrick (Melbourne / Dublin)

Blockbuster match of the round sees the Demons take on the Kangaroos and Sinéad will need to be on her best, taking on one of the most-feared forward lines in North Melbourne. The Dubliner will be looking to take confidence out of the fact she locked down Katie Brennan last week and replicate this against a very different looking attack in the fast North half-forwards. A close North win in this one.

Niamh McEvoy (Melbourne / Dublin)

Niamh comes back into the side after a couple of practice games under her belt. Expect her to slot into that half-forward line when she rolls in off the interchange as she continues her AFLW education. We could see a juicy Mayo-Dublin match-up if she strolls into Aileen Gilroy’s paddock.

Aileen Gilroy (North Melbourne / Mayo)

Big game coming up for Gilroy as she likely lines up on upcoming superstar Kate Hore. Kate has kicked four goals in two games and will be looking to add more against North. How many she ends up with will come down to how closely she’s tracked by the Mayo product. Last year, Gilroy burst onto the scene with a huge tackle on Melbourne’s Aliesha Newman, which showed she had very quickly taken to the rough and tumble of the AFLW.

Ailish Considine (Adelaide Crows / Clare)

Out of the team this week after a concussion left her not knowing where she was. She entered the mandatory 12-day stand down period and will be unavailable for selection.

Aishling Sheridan (Collingwood / Cavan)

A potential big game coming up for the Cavan forward against a Richmond side which is really struggling to either stop teams or score against them. Collingwood will be flying after back-to-back wins and looking to make a statement. A quieter game for Sheridan last week after she burst back onto the scene in Round One. Expect her to hit the scoresheet this week, and a Pies win.

Sarah Rowe (Collingwood / Mayo)

What a great sight it was to see Rowe back flying around the Oval last weekend and she capped off her return with a great left-footed goal to finish the game. Fellow Irishwoman O’Dwyer had a good run on the wing against a Tigers side who like to play on the inside. This could work in Rowe’s favour and get her plenty of opportunities to influence the game.

Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions / Tipperary)

After a breakout game last week, Orla will be looking to continue her rise in the game against a West Coast side who just came out on the wrong side on a physical battle in the west. Taking on her Tipp teammate, Aisling McCarthy, Orla and her Lions will be looking to go 3-0 after dominating the Suns. Expect another Lions win and O’Dwyer to add another step in her journey to the top of the AFLW.

aisling-mccarthy-celebrates-scoring-a-goal-with-orla-odwyer Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

Aisling McCarthy (West Coast Eagles / Tipperary)

A big step up for McCarthy in the wet last week where she went toe-to-toe with AFLW best and fairest elect Kiara Bowers. Aish Mac will be looking to add a little more run and carry in the dry on Monday night. The importance of McCarthy to the success of the Eagles cannot be understated with Dana Hooker and Niamh Kelly missing and she’ll have to set the world alight on at Hickey Park to drive home the Eagles first win of the season.

Niamh Kelly (West Coast Eagles / Mayo)

Unfortunately Niamh had to have surgery on her finger after the injury she sustained last week against the Dockers. Expect to see her back around the second half of the season.

Grace Kelly (West Coast Eagles / Mayo)

A huge step up in confidence and impact on the game from Round One as Grace battled hard to win possessions in the wet. Finishing with 12 possessions and four tackles, she’ll be looking to take her game to another level to make up for her sister’s absence. The half-forward will be looking to run hard on the fast tracks in the north-east and get a chance to hit her first goal for the season.

Round Three fixtures / results

(All in Irish time)

Friday 12 February

  • Western Bulldogs 3.6 (24) Geelong 1.3 (9) win

Saturday 13 February

  • GWS Giants v Gold Coast Suns, 4.10am
  • St Kilda v Carlton, 6.10am
  • Melbourne v North Melbourne, 8.10am – deferred coverage on TG4 at 5.10pm

Sunday 14 February

  • Adelaide Crows v Fremantle Dockers, 2.10am
  • Richmond v Collingwood, 4.10am

Monday, 15 February

  • Brisbane Lions v West Coast Eagles, 6.15am

- All games available to watch live on the AFLW app, with a highlights programme on TG4 on Monday evening at 8pm.

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