Irish Hawk’s speedy transition to a new sport

HAWTHORN’S Aine McDonagh was one of five new Irish faces in the AFLW this season, with the Galway native making the journey out to Australia for the first time this season.

McDonagh has always had an interest in coming out to Australia and to the AFLW, but it hasn’t been the right time in previous years. Until this year.

“Yeah so I had always kind of been asked do I have any interest in it. Mike Currane (AFLW Ireland co-ordinator) helps girls to get out to Australia and he’d kind of been on to me for a couple of years and I was always doing something or I had commitments to some teams or I was playing basketball or I was playing football or whatever, and then this year was just kind of the first year I hadn’t been, I’d moved up with my friends, I was working up there and I wasn’t committed to the Galway team that year because of distance and travel, so it was the first year I didn’t have anything tying me down really.”

Once she got signed up things went pretty quickly for McDonagh, who was out to Australia within two months of being signed up.

The 24 year old has an extensive history in Gaelic football before making the trek out to Australia.

Her Gaelic football career started young, as many do, just playing at home with family, before she first tried out for her home county Galway’s team at the age of 14. She did not make the team then, but did was she was 18 and become captain of the side.

She then rose to the Galway Senior side, which won several Connaught finals and made the All Ireland Final but unfortunately for them lost to the all conquering Dublin side.

In Gaelic her natural position is midfield, although she did spend a couple of seasons as a wing forward.

Unsurprisingly the transition to Aussie Rules has had its difficulties for McDonagh, but her team mates and the club have made it easier.

“It obviously has some difficulties, but overall I’m loving it. Like I’m living with two girls on the team which is really nice and they’ve made my settle in really easy, and as well the team is just a really good bunch of players and all so friendly and were so welcoming when I came in, which was really nice because the one thing I was worried about. In terms of the sport, obviously it has taken me a while. I still don’t really have the full feel of the game yet, I’m getting to learn it but I’m really enjoying it and we have brilliant coaches who have really put a lot of time and effort into me and developing my game which is fantastic and then probably the biggest tool that I have here is Aileen Gilroy.”

McDonagh was full of praise for Gillroy, who has been really helping the newer Irish Hawks settle in and teaching her the rules and lingo of the game.

The similarities between Gaelic and Aussie Rules has made the transition easier for McDonagh, but the rules have been the tricky difference for her. Her team mates have also made the transition much easier.

Although she is new to the game, Hawthorn fans can expect pace from her and a determination to always give 100%.

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