The luck seemed to fall the way of the Irish in round four of the AFLW, with all but one of the international players claiming a win in an action packed weekend.
For the third straight week all five Irish players features in AFLW matches around Australia with GWS’s Cora Staunton and Yvonne Bonner claiming their maiden win for the season.
In what was undoubtedly the best collective round for the Irish this season, Staunton, Bonner, Aisling McCarthy, Ailish Considine and Sarah Rowe would all play pivotal roles for the sides and show drastic improvements as they continue to grow into AFLW players.
For the first time this season, two sides featuring Irish players would meet as the Giants and Rowe’s Magpies looked to claim their first win of the season at Morwell Recreation Reserve in country Victoria.
A fast start by the Giants would see them pile on three goals in the first eight minutes, as they led all day to claim a much needed nine-point victory to get back into the conference B finals conversation.
After difficult match last week against the Blues, veteran Staunton would produce her best match of the season picking up 14 disposals and six tackles as she proved to be more than a handful for the Magpies defence.
She would also put through her fourth goal for the season courtesy of a powerful mark and classy finish inside 50 late in the first quarter, proving her importance to the structure of the GWS forward line.
Her partner in crime up forward Bonner would again show her development into one of the most exciting young prospects in the AFLW.
With the Giants forward line firing on all cylinders, Bonner would prove to be a focal point inside 50, picking up nine disposals and putting through a classy snap in the third quarter in a well-rounded performance.
Blessed with an excellent goal sense and ability to change the game with ball in hand, the sky is limit for Bonner as she continues to garner more and more opposition attention each week.
For the Magpies, Sarah Rowe would produce her best game for the season picking up nine disposals and five tackles in a performance highlighted by her forward pressure.
With her side struggling to make any impact on the scoreboard, Rowe battled hard all day, with her hard tackling and tough attack on the ball proving to be major assets to the Collingwood side this season.
On Saturday night, AFLW action again returned to the Whitten Oval as McCarthy’s Bulldogs took on the Brisbane Lions in a rematch of last year’s closely contested grand final.
Having had their colours lowered by a rampant Melbourne side last week, the Lions were a team on a mission as they dominated the home side from start to finish to run out 32-point winners.
On a tough night for her team, McCarthy would produce the best performance of her short AFLW career, collecting 12 disposals, two tackles and a goal as she provided her side with some much-needed spark across half forward.
With her side struggling to combat the intense Lions pressure, McCarthy would lift the crowd at the Whitten Oval in the third term as she smothered a kick out of the Brisbane defence before recovering to kick her team’s first goal for the night.
In the top end, Considine’s Adelaide Crows would continue their good form claiming their third straight win over a previously undefeated Fremantle side at TIO Stadium.
It was a tight contest for the majority of the first half in Darwin, as the sides traded goals to have Adelaide up by just three at the main change.
The second half would see the Crows come into their own, as new coach Matthew Clarke’s system worked wonders as they piled on six goals to the Dockers none to run out convincing 42-point victors.
Playing a role off half back, Considine was a key contributor throughout the night as she was composed with ball in hand and attacked the contest hard to claim nine disposals at 66% efficiency.
With slick ball movement a major feature of Adelaide’s game, Considine has been brilliant with her rebound and pace off half back as she continues to grow and adapt to Australian Football.
Now one month into the season, the development of all five Irish players has been nothing short of astounding with all of them playing key roles for their sides as they push for a finals berth over the next three weeks.
By Zac Standish