This weekend, Sinéad Goldrick will attempt to make history and join a short list of Irish players who have won and Aussie Rules Football title in their career, as her Melbourne side take on Brisbane.
With four All-Ireland titles and eight all-stars to her name, Sinéad Goldrick is no stranger to silverware in Ireland, and is aiming to add some more in Australia this Sunday.
The Dublin footballer has been a key part of a Melbourne side that has lost just one game all season and fell just short of first place in the league season, which would have guaranteed them home advantage in this weekend’s final. After losing the final last season, Sinéad Goldrick will have the opportunity to avenge Melbourne’s loss.
Speaking to Balls,ie, Goldrick described the feeling after the full time whistle blew after Melbourne defeated their rivals North Melbourne in the Preliminary final.
“Honestly it was probably relief, because in that game we probably didn’t get to play the way we anted to. North Melbourne was a really high pressure game, so I don’t think it was until Monday when it really hit me and I got satisfaction that us and the girls get the chance to play in a Grand Final.”
Standing in Melbourne and Goldrick’s way is Brisbane, who ended the league season top of the table, with Tipperary’s Orla O’Dwyer a key part of their side.
With Brisbane having home advantage, it makes this weekend’s task even more difficult, but the 32-year-old relishes the challenge they face going into the Grand Final.
“Brisbane would be favourites going into this match, they’ve the leading goal kicker in Jesse Wardlaw. Once you hear of Brisbane, you think of fitness. They are a very young team, and they can get it up and down, they’re work rate is exceptional.
We played them in round four and that was the only team that we lost to. Orla O’Dwyer, she is an exceptional runner, someone that just keeps on going. She’s one of those players that gets on the wing and gives them huge territory, she is an important element to how they play.
Their forward line are all goal scorers, they’ve got height to mark it and really quick players to drop the ball. We respect the pressure the forward line brings.
It’s exciting. We know how good they are and we know we have to be at our best to beat them. It's a Grand Final, anything can happen."
It hasn’t been the easiest season for the Dublin footballer, who has had to deal with injuries to get to this point but admits overcoming the hurdles to be fit for this final makes it all the better.
“I did my MCL at the start of the year so I didn’t start off as I would’ve wanted to, it was the week before the first round. I had another injury in between that. At the moment I’m just about a good fit of health so I’m really enjoying it.
It’s been a stop start season for me, but that’s how sport goes. I’m just happy I can play in the Grand Final so it’s good. It makes you value it more
We've got a few players on our team with long term injuries and they are just getting around the whole team and I think any time you are in a position to play in the team, I am hugely grateful for it."
Should Melbourne be successful on Sunday, Sinéad Goldrick and Mackin would join Ailish Considine and Orla O'Dwyer on the list of Irish players to win a Grand Final in Australia.
While she admits her achievements for Dublin and her club would mean more to her, the Dublin back admitted it would be a special achievement to win this weekend's final.
"Gaelic is my number one, for county and club, and I really, really miss it. I know anytime club, county or anytime I put a jersey on, I want to do my best.
Gaelic, club and Dublin, are way ahead of it, but this is a huge thing. Every year, you right down a goal in terms of performing as best as you can. As a athlete I want to do that regardless of where I'm playing.
If your best is good enough to win, that's even better. That's regardless if it's a Grand Final or round one. That's the kind of attitude I have.
This is my fourth year here, and the love I have for the girls, it would be something that would just be great, as long as we perform to the best of our ability."
Irish In Australia
Alongside Goldrick in this Melbourne side is Armagh's Blaithin Mackin, who has hugely impressed in her first season of AFLW. At just 23-years-old, Mackin has been a huge part of this Melbourne side, and Goldrick has been blown away by her first season.
“She’s doing amazing. She’s playing a ring role, the amount of carries she makes in the games and work ethic is brilliant, she’s really adopted so well to it.
She’s only 23, so for her she’s having an amazing debut season and been a crucial part of our team. There’s that huge sense of pride when it is with an Irish person that you’re playing with and also when your watching other teams you kind of understand and relate to what all the Irish players are thinking.
There’s a huge sense of community here. There’s a few girls playing in Victoria clubs and we meet up regularly. There’s a big connection with the Irish players.”
Season seven of the AFLW has seen some huge Irish performances across the league, with 22 players from Ireland involved in the competition. For Sinéad Goldrick, one player from Leitrim who couldn’t stop scoring stood out for her.
“Áine Tighe is probably one that stands out immensely for the injuries and resilience that she’s had. She’s a game match winner and really stepped up for a Fremantle side that had a tough season with injuries.
Aileen Gilroy came second in the best of her players, she’s just playing like she’s playing Gaelic football in the sense that she’s fragging forward, running at everything.
Vikki Wall has been exceptional in the forward line, and so has Aine McDonagh. They’ve scored a lot of goals. I think the players are doing Ireland proud in terms of how they’re playing, so it’s really good.”