Tipperary footballer Aisling McCarthy will return to Australia this year as she signed a two-year contract with AFLW club West Coast Eagles.
The 24 year old has made history as she is the first Irishwoman and non-Australian to switch clubs in the AFLW. The 2017 and 2019 Intermediate All-Ireland winner has had a great run in the AFLW so far. In her debut season with Western Bulldogs, she was vital to the side, scoring five goals in six games, with an average of over 10 disposals per game. Last season, she flourished in her move to midfield, with an average of 13.5 disposals and four tackles per game.
Back in June, McCarthy told Her Sport that she’d love to represent the Premier County in the All-Ireland this year, and that returning to Australia would be a tough decision. However, she’s gotten the best of both worlds as she is free to play for Tipperary until she moves to Perth ahead of the AFLW 2021 pre-season on November 4.
“I’m really excited to join the West Coast Eagles and continue to build on the foundations they put down in their debut season,” she said. “I’m really excited to put my hand up for a spot in midfield next year.”
She’s looking forward to playing with Mayo sisters Grace and Niamh Kelly, who today signed contract extensions to stay with the Perth side for another two years.
“We will have a great understanding of each other from our Gaelic football background and I’m sure we can bring something different to the table.”
West Coast Eagles head of female football, Adam Sellwood, said he’d been tracking McCarthy’s progress with Western Bulldogs and was really impressed by her impact on the game. “Not only does Aisling provide us with another strong-bodied and poised midfielder, she has the ability to push forward and become a dangerous threat in our forward line.”
In May, Niamh Kelly told Her Sport that she and her sister loved playing for the Eagles and it was “a brilliant experience” for them.
“There were some fantastic people involved in the club. We really enjoyed training in a professional environment, like they had some unbelievable facilities and everything was kind of at your doorstep.”
McCarthy and the Kelly sisters got involved in the AFLW through CrossCoders, a global programme which allows top female athletes the chance to play professionally in the AFLW. Last season, 18 Irish athletes were signed by Aussie Rules clubs.