Round two of the 2019 AFLW was full of big hits, exciting goals, incredible grabs and even lightning bolts, as all ten teams showed off their talents in an intriguing weekend of action.
Round two saw a record five Irish players take the field, as Western Bulldogs rookie Aisling McCarthy made her AFLW debut, joining Yvonne Bonner, Cora Staunton, Ailish Considine and Sarah Rowe in representing not only her nation but Europe as a whole.
Playing in a Saturday night feature clash with Geelong at the Whitten Oval, McCarthy would fit in seamlessly to the reigning premier Western Bulldogs outfit as they ran away convincing 28-point victors.
McCarthy’s toughness around the contest and ferocious tackling was on display from the first bounce as she helped set up an early goal for the Dogs with some excellent forward pressure.
McCarthy played a key role throughout the night, with a crucial goal in the third term showing her sense for the game as she played on for advantage and finished beautifully.
In what was a memorable debut, Aisling ended up eight disposals, four tackles and a goal with a big win to top it all off as the Bulldogs continued the undefeated start to their premiership defence.
Wild weather greeted the girls at Drummoyne Oval, as Cora Staunton, Yvonne Bonner and Greater Western Sydney geared up for a blockbuster Friday night clash with a star-studded North Melbourne.
With the threat of lightning a serious danger, proceedings would be delayed 43 minutes before the sides could do battle on a ground soaked by rain.
In what was well and truly a tough affair, veteran Staunton again proved to be a standout for the Giants as she put both her AFL and Gaelic football skills to good use picking up a hard fought 15 disposals.
Her leadership and strength around the contest were trademarks of a gritty game by Staunton as she well and truly led from the front on a tough night for the Giants.
Proving to be a livewire up forward on her debut, Bonner showed continued improvement in her second AFLW outing.
Picking up 11 disposals in a horror night for forwards, Bonner showed her immense potential in perhaps the highlight of the night for Giants as she out bodied her defender to take an impressive mark in the wet before playing on and finishing her work to put through her second AFLW goal.
In a night filled with drama, including a power outage late in the second term, North Melbourne proved too good for the young Giants, running out 25 points to leave GWS reeling at 0-2.
In Melbourne, it was a traditional Saturday afternoon’s football as two of Victoria’s biggest clubs in Collingwood and Melbourne did battle at the original home of the Magpies in Victoria Park.
Flying the Irish flag in this clash would be Magpies forward Sarah Rowe, who looked to continue her development as an AFLW forward.
On a rough day for forwards, Rowe would show her intense forward pressure and athleticism as she racked up an astounding eight tackles to go along with her three disposals.
In a tight affair, Collingwood could never really get their offence going effectively as one goal for the afternoon told a grim tale as they fell by 15 points, seeing them slump to a winless start to 2019.
On Sunday, Ailish Consaldine’s Adelaide Crows would claim their first victory of the 2019 AFLW season with a comeback victory over Carlton.
In a see-sawing affair at IKON Park, it looked a lost cause for the Crows early in the third as Carlton skipped away to a comfortable 17-point lead.
However, 11 minutes of perfection would see Adelaide reel off six straight goals as they stormed home to a memorable 13-point victory.
In her second AFLW match, Consaldine proved a solid performer as she exhibited good skills and a ferocious attack on the ball to claim eight disposals (at 77% efficiency) and three tackles.
An excellent athlete with a good sense of the game, Consaldine looks to be a key part of the Crows future as she quickly adapts to the intricacies of Australian Rules Football.
Overall, it was a memorable week for our Irish five in the AFLW, with a memorable debut to McCarthy one of many highlights dished up by these code-swapping athletes.
Next week, we will hopefully see all five players in action again with McCarthy’s Bulldogs kicking off the round three action with a massive encounter against North Melbourne.
By Zac Standish