Tipperary ladies’ football boss Shane Ronayne has received a massive boost with the news that he will be able to call on his two Aussie Rules players for this year’s championship campaign.
By Paddy Hickey
Just a few weeks ago, Ronayne expressed fears that AFL clubs were set to impose a ban on their Irish players lining out in the 2020 All-Ireland series of matches.
The serious concerns of the Premier County supremo were based around the fact that, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, players from this country would be delayed linking up with their Aussie teammates in pre-season training until the latter stages of the All-Ireland Championship which is not scheduled to finish until late November.
At the time, Ronayne said: “The ladies’ Aussie Rules season runs from early February to late April, and I suppose it’s understandable that the Aussie Rules clubs would like their Irish players to take part in as much of the pre-season training as possible.”
However, to his immense relief, the Mitchelstown native has received word that his Aussie Rules duo, Aisling McCarthy and Orla O’Dwyer, will now be available for selection for the domestic campaign, as a result of decisions taken by the respective West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Lions clubs.
“It’s great that we will have Aisling and Orla with us for this year’s championship, as we would be seriously weakened if they were ruled out by their Aussie clubs,” said Ronanye, whose side face Galway in their opening championship game on either October 31 or November 1, and Monaghan a week later,
“Admittedly, Aisling and Orla will miss some of the pre-season training in Australia, but having trained and played matches with their clubs and the county, they will be in very good physical shape when they head down-under.”
Last week, Tipperary midfielder McCarthy created a piece of history when she transferred from Melbourne’s Western Bulldogs to Perth outfit West Coast Eagles, making a whopping move of almost 1,700 miles. In so doing, the Cahir club player became the first non-Australian to change clubs in the women’s AFL code.
Utility GAA player O’Dwyer has not yet signed for Brisbane Lions, but Ronayne, who is in his fourth year at the Tipp helm, expects the Boherlahan clubwoman to once again feature in the Aussie code next year.
“All the indications are that Orla will play once again with Brisbane Lions,” said the Tipp boss on O’Dwyer, who, like McCarthy, is currently playing in the local club championship which got under way last week.
Additional favourable news for Ronayne, who steered Cork outfit Mourneabbey to the last two All-Ireland Club women’s football titles, concerns midfielder Anna-Rose Kennedy, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while training in her first year with Dublin City University last November.
“Anna-Rose is making tremendous progress with her re-hab and hopefully she will be available for selection for the Galway game,” revealed Ronayne on the Aherlow club ace who lived in Liverpool until she was seven and whose mother Helen is a native of the Merseyside city and whose Patrick is a Tipperary native.
However, the return to action of fellow ACL victim Sarah Fryday is set to be delayed until the New Year. “Sarah picked up her injury three months after Anna-Rose, and so she has no chance of playing in this year’s championship,” said Ronayne on Fryday, who did the damage while featuring in a camogie match for Thurles Sarsfields.