Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight – Mairead Coyne

Mairead Coyne first played Australian Football just 11 months ago, but she has already won two Euro Cup titles with the Irish Banshees and was named as the Women’s Player of the Tournament at the recent 2019 Euro Cup in Sweden. For someone who has known the game for less than a year, those are some incredible achievements that highlight Mairead’s natural ability on the sports field.

Her Irish Banshees and West Clare Waves coach, Michael Currane, says she has been key for those two teams since she started playing.

“Mairead has made a huge impact on the Irish Banshees and the West Clare Waves team in a very short space of time. Her development as an Aussie Rules player, in less than a year to date, has been phenomenal,” Currane said.

Some of that development comes from a history of playing both rugby and GAA, two sports which share a range of skills with Australian Football. Mairead still plays both of those sports, but decided to try something different and to try a sport that originates from another country.

“It has everything in the game, tackling, kicking, while in GAA I can’t shoulder or hassle another player off the ball. There’s a lot more physicality in it [Australian Football] and that’s why I love it so much,” Coyne said.

Her decision to try something different all started when she decided to apply for the CrossCoders Camp in Melbourne, Australia. As part of her preparation, she wanted to work on her skills so was invited down to a West Clare Waves training session by Michael, and Mairead has been involved ever since.

Because of her experience playing rugby, Mairead feels that two of her key strengths are tackling and kicking, especially when it comes to using the oval shaped ball. When it comes to sport though, it takes physical ability and game intelligence to play well, a key part of her game her coach sees in week in, week out.

“Mairead is a pleasure to coach. She’s a hugely intelligent player on the oval and reads the game extremely well. She brings an amazing work ethic to every training and every game and is constantly looking to improve and soaks up any advice we give her. She is hugely reliable on the ground and is a strong dynamic and versatile player,” Currane said.

After the Irish Banshees won back-to-back Euro Cup’s just a couple of weeks ago and the West Clare Waves took out the Champions League title earlier this year, where she was named in the Team of the Tournament, Mairead is already looking ahead to the next major international AFL tournaments. She has a goal to increase her skills and fitness by gaining as much game time over the next few months as possible before she hopes to be selected for the 2019 European Championships in London.

Looking ahead a little further, Mairead would love to represent Ireland at the 2020 International Cup, competing against some of the best Australian Football players from a range of countries across the world.

With a number of Irish women travelling over to play in the AFLW, there is a lot more publicity in Ireland about the sport, and with programs such as CrossCoders helping promote the game, Mairead believes Australian Football is going to become a big sport in Europe.

For players like herself, that can only be positive as more people will get opportunities to play at a local level but the CrossCoders program will also provide players like Mairead with the opportunity to take their game that step further.