Friday, February 01 2019 @ 05:30 pm ACDT
Contributed by: WFN Administrator
By Lisa 'Kiwi' Roper
On the eve of the new AFLW season, we have quite an Irish flavor across the competition this season. We know all about 11 time All-Ireland start Cora Staunton who will be back in the GWS Giants colors, and this year we will also get to marvel at the magic from Mayo in Sarah Rowe.
A former junior soccer star, and later Mayo Gaelic player, she came across towards during our winter footy season and was almost shopped around to various clubs, to find a fit and find a club that may appreciate the talent she had to offer. Collingwood Magpies has become her home away from home.
I watched her first hit-out in the practice match against the Western Bulldogs. She certainly has some speed, and covers a huge amount of ground, offering many options as to what position she may play the most. The physicality of the game seemed to not bother and she was often hard to the contests and able to burst from the tackles with seemingly no hindrance. Rowe was tested a little in defense and mostly in the midfield where I felt she really excelled. Her read of the ball and timing is fantastic for a new convert to the code and shows how simply the skills from gaelic can cross over to AFL even in such a short time training with the Sherrin.
Rowe still learning the rules at one point thought she has snagged a goal after playing on once the ball had hit the posts. As she claims, “all other sports its play on, so I thought it was the same here too”. I’m sure her teammates will help her with the rules and remind her of that ‘goal’. She did score two goals in the game, including one in the last quarter that bought the Magpies within a point of the reigning premiers.
Competing at the World Youth games for soccer, Rowe is aware of what it takes to excel at sport and will be doing many an extra training session to make sure she is well up to what is required for the Round 1 match, which will be the showcase to start Season 3, at Kardinia Park, against Geelong Cats.
Rowe has been named as a back pocket, though I’m certain we will see her through the midfield, and throughout the season she is bound to pick up BnF points, such is the talent she possesses. Linking up with the experience of Steph Chiocci, Rowe will be a well known name by the season end in this land.
The other irish recruits, 3 who came through the Cross Coders programme are all listed for Round 1. Drafteee Aisling McCarthy has been named in the greater squad for Western Bulldogs, while the two signed during their week in Oz, Yvonne Bonner (GWS Giants) and Ailish Considine (Adelaide Crows) look set for a spot in their respective starting lineups. All three did well in the practice matches, and from what I’ve seen so far, I have no doubt that Bonner will be the one with many a goal next to her name come season end, and a high chance of some silverware.
The next Cross-Coders programme is taking applicants now, so get onboard, anything could happen if you work hard at it.