MAYO SISTERS NIAMH and Grace Kelly are set to become the latest Irish additions to the Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW], both linking up with the West Coast Eagles ahead of the new side’s first season in the league.
The AFLW’s offical website is reporting that the duo have signed an agreement to join the Perth outfit as rookies, and The42 understands that CrossCoders — the programme that brought three Irish players to the league last year — is central to the move, with more information to come on that front later this week.
The Moy Davitts stars become the third and fourth Mayo players to make the move Down Under, following in the footsteps of Cora Staunton — who recently signed on for a third year at Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants — and Collingwood star Sarah Rowe.
Niamh (23) is the Westerners’ captain for 2019, while Grace (24) impressed alongside her in Peter Leahy’s forward line through the Lidl Ladies National Football League.
Both teachers in Dublin, they’ll don the Green and Red for Connacht championship and, of course, the All-Ireland series, before their focus switches to the oval ball.
With four new teams added to the line-up for the AFLW’s fourth edition, the West Coast Eagles have acted fast — and obviously taken notice of the outstanding success of Irish players Down Under of late.
While both Staunton and Rowe starred in the 2019 season, Clare native Ailish Considine helped her Adelaide Crows side to Grand Final victory.
The 2019 Premier champion signed a rookie contract off the back of a CrossCoders trial camp in Melbourne last September — as did Yvonne Bonner and Ailsing McCarthy.
Donegal star Bonner went on to catch the eye alongside 11-time All-Star Staunton at GWS, while Tipperary ace McCarthy succeeded at Western Bulldogs, and like the others, has renewed terms for 2020.
The Kellys’ signings brings the total of Irish players in the league for 2020 to seven, with more expected to join them in the coming weeks and months.
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