The number of Irish players heading to Australia to play in the AFLW has been steadily increasing over the last couple of years, although a major change to the season in the sport could force some into a more difficult decision in the months ahead.
The AFLW is set to get underway in August this year, changing from it's traditional January start. With the All-Ireland championship set to go on until the last weekend of July, many will be forced to choose between inter-county action or a move to Aussie rules in 2022.
Meath's Vikki Wall, last year's Player of the Year, is expected to move to Australia for the first time later this year. Her manager Eamonn Murray said this earlier this week that he couldn't understand why anyone would want to play that 'dreadful' sport.
I’d say we’re losing Vikki now in September and I don’t know how many more we’ll lose.
I don’t know why you’d want to play that sport because it’s dreadful stuff to watch. I can’t understand it. There’s no skill at all.
Such comments are unlikely to deter players moving to Australia in the future, especially when they are granted the opportunity to earn a living by playing sport.
Clare native Ailish Considine has played in the AFLW for each of the last four years and is currently preparing for a third Grand Final of her stint in the sport.
Speaking on the RTÉ GAA Podcast, she addressed Murray's comments and said that any inter-county player should grab the opportunity to join the league regardless of the criticism they may receive from some quarters.
You can understand the disappointment to lose players from the squad and especially how Meath have been going in the past 12 months, off the back of an All-Ireland and Vikki having an unbelievable season.
My personal opinion on managers getting frustrated and that is, it’s a bit unfair but I understand where they’re coming from.
It’s not a hobby whereas at the end of the day Gaelic football is amateur and it is a hobby. We don’t get paid for it, it costs us money and especially as female athletes it costs us money to play Gaelic football for your county at the highest level.
For a female sport, it’s a bit unjust to be aggravated at players for going over to take up a professional sport. That opportunity for women, it’s few and far between in Ireland. Unless you play soccer you don’t really have much of an opportunity to go professional as a woman.
With a game that’s so similar to the game we grew up with in terms of skillset, of course Irish girls should grab the opportunity to play a new sport, to play professional and the travel the world.
Considine wasn't the only player with Aussie rules experience to seem bemused by the Meath manager's comments.
Lost for words � https://t.co/WYcTUBQyTe
— Aishling Sheridan (@AishlingSherdo) April 7, 2022
— Zach Tuohy (@zach2e) April 6, 2022
This is a trend that is unlikely to be reversed any time soon.
While any talented players leaving their counties would be a big blow to that team, you certainly couldn't begrudge them the opportunity to play professional sport.