Staunton and Stack set for another campaign Down Under

Former Mayo and Cork stars will join forces for GWS Giants in the AFLW

 Bríd Stack:  former Cork star has signed up for another year in AFLW with  GWS Giants. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Bríd Stack: former Cork star has signed up for another year in AFLW with GWS Giants. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Bríd Stack has been given a second opportunity to play in the AFLW by Great Western Sydney Giants, after this year’s bid was scuppered by a broken neck.

And the former Cork star will be joined by her long-time Mayo rival Cora Staunton, who remains an influential leader after recovering from a double leg fracture, despite turning 40 in December.

Staunton was a vital support in Sydney to Stack, who will celebrate her 35th birthday three days after Staunton reaches her milestone.

Stack suffered a stable fracture of her C7 vertebrae in her very first pre-season game for the Giants but astounded the coaching staff with her commitment to attempting to regain full fitness prior to the season’s conclusion.

The 11-time All-Ireland ladies’ football winner with Cork has made a full recovery and it will be one of the more remarkable stories of the Irish AFLW story if she gets to make her debut.

Last year, Stack travelled to Australia with her husband Cárthach and their son Cárthach Óg, while Staunton became a close ally, even taking on baby-sitting duties.

Staunton recovered from a slow start to the season and finished strongly for the Giants. There had been suggestions that she might be offered a coaching role and that may yet materialise, but for now, she remains a central figure on the playing list.

A four-time All-Ireland winner, Staunton was the first direct recruit from Ireland to play in the AFL – former Cavan player Laura Duryea (née Corrigan) had emigrated and was married in Australia when she played for Melbourne in the inaugural season. She has scored 29 goals in 30 games for the Giants.

They pair will not be joined by Donegal sharpshooter Yvonne Bonner however, who remains on the inactive list as she is pregnant and due to give birth in the coming months. With the next season starting in December, Bonner is already turning her attentions to resuming her AFLW career for the 2022/2023 season.

Cavan star Aishling Sheridan has also committed to returning to the AFLW after signing a two-year extension to her contract with Collingwood.

Ten goals

Sheridan was a revelation for the Pies last season with her ball-winning and goalscoring and has racked up ten goals in 18 appearances in her two campaigns to date.

A daughter of former Cavan footballer Gerry, the 24-year-old will be joined by Mayo ace Sarah Rowe, who has also inked an extension for two more years in the black and white, having scored eight goals in 21 games in the course of three seasons.

It has been confirmed that Aileen Gilroy, who has opted out of playing for Mayo in 2021, will play for North Melbourne for another two years also, after winning a slew of Australian fans with her physicality in defence over the course of 17 games in two campaigns so far.

Others who are contracted to participating in the expanded AFLW include Tipp dual Gaelic games star and recent AFLW winner with Brisbane Lions, Orla O’Dwyer, Melbourne’s Dublin duo Sinéad Goldrick and Lauren Magee and Adelaide’s former Premier League winner and former Clare dual player Ailish Considine.

West Coast Eagles also moved quickly to retain the services of Mayo siblings, Grace and Niamh Kelly, while Tipperary footballer Aisling McCarthy has another year to run on a two-year deal.

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