FREMANTLE’S Áine Tighe is hopeful of returning to the field this season in time to make her AFLW debut after suffering a knee injury earlier this year.
An ACL injury in a preseason game last year forced Tighe to miss the entire 2020 season.
Coming back to join the Dockers for the 2021 season, a medial meniscus tear in the same knee has seen her dreams of an AFLW debut again put on hold.
With the short AFLW season, Tighe is doing everything she can to rehabilitate the knee in time for a potential finals berth with the women in purple.
WATCH OR LISTEN (BELOW) TO AFL EUROPE’S CHAT WITH ÁINE TIGHE.
“I’ve been a bit unfortunate on the injury side of things,” she told AFL Europe.
“With the season being so short you are under that bit more pressure. The timeline so far we are going well in terms of recovery and hitting the milestones.
“Hopefully we will try and shave a week or two off and see what happens come the end of the season. Hopefully the girls continue their streak and get to finals and you never know what could happen.”
After an impressive season last year winning all six of their games, the Dockers have recorded two wins in their opening matches and sit fifth on the AFLW ladder.
Whilst the 28 year-old is busy in rehab and the gym, she is also continuing her game education, attending line meetings, reviews and touch sessions.
Signed as a ruck from County Leitrim, she has spent time under the guidance of four-time All-Australian Aaron Sandilands, as ruck coach.
“He’s a massive legend of the club, we learnt a heap off him on and off the track,” Tighe said.
“This year I have spent more time with the forwards, I’m getting a good insight into that part of the game as well like leading and running patterns, blocking and shepherding which wouldn’t come naturally to us with a Gaelic background.”
Before joining the Dockers playing ranks, Tighe played a full season in the Harvey Norman AFL Ireland Womens Premiership with the West Clare Waves, taking out the team’s best and fairest, and leading goal kicker awards.
She was also part of the Irish team to compete in AFL Europe’s 2019 European Championships in London. Playing in that 18-a-side format against the best from Europe was of huge help in preparing for the AFLW, according to Tighe.
“Without that, it would have been a huge step up to come straight into preseason and into that professional environment. It gave us a huge head start across here,” she said.
The Dockers will come up against the also undefeated Adelaide Crows this weekend.