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'Dublin holds a special place in our heart, given the connection to Jimmy and the Stynes family'

Sinéad Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy become Melbourne’s first AFLW international rookies.

Sinéad Goldrick is one of two Dublin All-Ireland winners joining the club.
Sinéad Goldrick is one of two Dublin All-Ireland winners joining the club.
Image: Melbourne FC.

A PRETTY LANDMARK day, as two Dublin players join the Irish Exodus to the AFLW.

Before All-Ireland winning duo Sinéad Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy’s switch to Melbourne FC was announced this morning, there were 16 Irishwomen on AFLW lists. None of those Dubs, however.

The way the season works Down Under, it means those coming from ladies football backgrounds on these shores miss the majority of the league, but are available to return home and represent their county in championship action. 

Until now, Mick Bohan’s recently crowned three-in-a-row champions have remained solely committed to the Dublin cause. 

Not only is it a landmark day on these shores, however, it’s a pretty significant one for Melbourne, as the club sign their first female international recruits.

“This is a significant announcement not only for our women’s program, but for our football club in its entirety,” as Melbourne’s AFLW list manager Todd Patterson told Melbourne Media.

“Over the past six to eight years, Sinead and Niamh have created impressive on-field profiles through their hard work and team success, and as a result, have become two of the best-credentialed female athletes in the country.

7 (1) St Sylvester's star Niamh McvEvoy. Source: Melbourne FC.

“They are terrific people, who we think will truly align with the values of our club, and with Dublin GAA being the closest thing you can get to a professional sporting organisation in Ireland, we have full confidence they will be well prepared for the demands of AFLW.”

Six-time All-Star Goldrick is hands down one of the best defenders — if not players — in the country, while four-time All-Ireland winner McEvoy has really come to the fore over the past few seasons, and has made a case for herself as one of the top forwards around.

Both will bring huge assets to the game Down Under. Foxrock-Cabinteely ace Goldie’s direct running, tackling and controlled aggression will be more than welcome at the Dees, as will McEvoy’s impressive fielding and unerring accuracy before the posts.

But there’s more to it than that, Patterson agrees.

“AFLW is an extremely difficult competition to play in,” he says, “but we believe the girls’ sporting experience will hold them in good stead from the outset.

todd-patterson Patterson was at the CrossCoders cap in Athlone in May. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“We look forward to them working with our experienced development staff to fast track their skills ahead of an exciting 2020.”

Last year, Melbourne had a positive season which threw up four wins and three losses, as they finished fourth on the ladder. They’ll look to really build on that now, though, after failing to qualify for the finals for the third consecutive year.

Their newest duo will play a massive part in that, and follow a strong Irish tradition at the club. Melbourne was the side of former Cavan player Laura Duryea (née Corrigan), though 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.

Most famously, however, it 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.

jim-stynes-2731999 The late Jim Stynes. Source: ©INPHO

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,” Patterson adds. “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.”

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Emma Duffy

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