After a groundbreaking round two, all five Irish players again graced fields around Australia for AFLW action in what was an intriguing weekend of football.
It was a blockbuster clash to get round three proceedings underway as the two top teams of Conference A in North Melbourne and reigning premiers Western Bulldogs did battle at the University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston.
After an exciting debut at the Whitten Oval last week, Aisling McCarthy looked to further cement her spot in the side with another strong showing on the Friday night stage.
On a rough night for her side, McCarthy again showed her hardness at the contest and excellent game sense with six disposals, three marks and a behind.
She also showed her team first mentality through a number of one percenters as she looked to do all she could to help resurrect the poor situation for her side.
With a chance of going 3-0 up for grabs, the star-studded North Melbourne squad proved themselves as early premiership favorites as they dominated the Bulldogs from start to finish to run out convincing 31-point winners.
After an underwhelming start to the season, both GWS and Carlton were in desperate need of a win as they met on Saturday afternoon at Blacktown International Sports Park in Sydney.
In what was set to be one of the more tightly contested games of the round, the Blues would completely blow GWS out of the water as the return of stars such as Tayla Harris brought about immediate success.
On a tough night for her team, Yvonne Bonner’s stocks rose again as she proved to be a major bright spot for the Giants throughout the afternoon.
Picking up a season high 13 disposals and eight marks at 77% disposal efficiency, Bonner excited the crowd at Blacktown International Sports Park, providing a major spark in the GWS forward 50.
Along with her ability to find the ball, Bonner provided one of the highlights of the afternoon as she gathered the ball in the forward pocket, evaded a Carlton defender and goaled from the boundary to keep her team in the hunt.
After a big game in the wet last week, veteran Cora Staunton was not quite at her best as she only claimed six disposals in comparison to 14 and 15 in the two weeks prior.
Despite her lack of presence around the ball, Staunton would provide one of the highlights of the day for GWS as she used her excellent goal sense to turn around and snap at goal from 35 meters out in the second quarter to bring the margin back to seven points.
However, on a day when Carlton finally put together four solid quarters of football, the Giants simply could not much the class of their opposition as the Blues ran out 29-point victors.
Over in the West, Fremantle would continue their undefeated start to the season with a comprehensive win over Sarah Rowe’s Collingwood side.
On her first interstate trip as an AFLW player, it was a rough night for Rowe’s Magpies as their scoring woes continued only amassing a poor total two goals on a beautiful night in Perth.
Despite the poor form of her side, Rowe would enjoy her best game for the season picking up nine disposals, three marks and a tackle, in a performance which showed her rapid improvement.
Rowe would also impress with her work rate up the ground and ability to get involved in the play as she looked to really settle into her role within the Collingwood forward set up.
She could not resurrect the Pies inability to score however, as the Magpies were outclassed by an inform Dockers team who managed to boost their percentage with a 33-point win.
The final match featuring an Irish player for round three would be held at Norwood Oval, as Ailish Considine’s Adelaide Crows claimed their second straight win over Geelong.
Led by inspired performances by co-captain Erin Phillips and midfield maestro Ebony Marinoff, the Crows produced a clinical four quarters of football based around quick ball movement and a ferocious attack on the ball.
With coach Matthew Clarke’s system firing on all cylinders, young Considine did not look out of place as she showed her quick adaptation to Australia’s game with an impressive nine disposal game off half back.
Using the ball at 66%, Considine’s decision making was a particular highlight of her game as she started a number of the Crow’s attacks from defence through her ability to hit targets and take on bold and risky options.
Claiming their first home victory of the season, Adelaide dazzled their home crowd with ten goals and a convincing 29-point win to have them well and truly in the hunt in a competitive conference A.
After just three weeks, the development of the five Irish AFLW players has been nothing short of overwhelming as they have all adapted brilliantly to the game and are beginning to play key role for their respective sides moving forward.
By Zac Standish