Midfield ace Aisling McCarthy says her move to a new Aussie Rules club won’t impact in any way on her role with Tipperary in this year’s All-Ireland ladies’ football championship campaign.
By Paddy Hickey
Earlier this month, McCarthy created a piece of history, when she became the first overseas player to be transferred, or as the Australians call it “traded”, when she switched from Melbourne club Western Bulldogs to Perth outfit West Coast Eagles.
As a result of Tipperary’s win over Meath in the 2019 All-Ireland intermediate final, the Premier County automatically secured promotion to the senior grade, and Shane Ronayne’s side open their campaign with a clash against last year’s All-Ireland senior runners-up Galway in their opening tie on the weekend of October 31 / November 1.
And commenting on her dual code involvement, McCarthy said: “Obviously I’ll be hoping that my move to the West Coast Eagles works out well for me, but that won’t detract in any way from the contribution I’ll be striving to make for the Tipperary team in the All-Ireland Championship.
“Obviously, with our first game being against the team that played Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland final it’s a very difficult start for us, but winning the All-Ireland intermediate title last year has given us a lot of confidence and self-belief, and we’ll be giving it a real go against Galway.
“And because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the shortened format of this year’s championship, no team will be relegated back to the intermediate championship for next year’s campaign.
“As a result, there will be far less pressure on ourselves this year, so we can afford to approach the games in a much more relaxed frame of mind and concentrate on playing our best brand of football.
“And even if the game against Galway doesn’t go as well as we would like, we will be aiming to produce a really big performance in our second game against Monaghan whom we play a week later,” added the Cahir clubwoman, who has been featuring for the Tipperary senior team since 2013 when she was only 16 years of age.
Regarding her Aussie Rules move, the Blue-and-Gold stalwart, who was selected as the ‘Player of the Year’ in 2017, and who received an All Star nomination last year, said: “I’m really looking forward to it, and it will be great to link up with the Kelly sisters, Grace and Niamh, who play with Mayo.
“I was very excited when the West Coast Eagles made an approach to me, and an additional attraction was that the Eagles have two of the best midfielders in the Aussie Rules game in Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson, whom I’ll be playing alongside.
“And it’s also a big plus for me that Belinda Smith, a teammate and a very good friend of mine in the first of my two seasons with the Western Bulldogs, is now playing with the Eagles, having moved clubs last season.
“As well as the playing aspect, it’s also a bonus that I’ll be able to involve myself in some physiotherapy work at the club when I move to Perth.
“I qualified as a physiotherapist in May 2018, and I’m currently working as a physio on the wards for in-patients at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise. Because of the nature of the visa that myself and the other overseas players have, we’re not entitled to do any work for which we would get paid.
“So obviously I won’t receive any income, but I’ll be able to help out with the club physios for two two three hours a week, and I’ll gain a lot of very valuable experience by working with people who have been qualified for a far longer period than myself.
“Due to the fact that the club is based in Perth on the west coast and that most of the clubs are based in Melbourne and Sydney, there will be a lot more travelling for matches, but I’m sure that I’ll get used to that quite quickly.”