Erika from Eire living the dream halfway round the world

THINGS have changed pretty dramatically in life in the last 12 months for Roo Erika O’Shea, going from a young Gaelic football star in Cork to a fully fledged AFLW player on the verge of her first grand final.

O’Shea said that coming across to Australia as a 19-year-old was not easy, but the Kangaroos made the process easier.

“I came out here at 19 so I’m the youngest Irish AFLW player to come over, and it was a big transition,” she said. “My family have been amazing though, so hopefully they’ll be able to come out this weekend and see the grand final in person. It was definitely a really hard transition, there was a lot to it and the club have been amazing. They really helped me settle so I was really lucky that way.”

O’Shea is very excited about the prospect of playing in this weekend’s decider.

“It’s a dream come true, it’s incredible,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine being in a final after my second year, especially a grand final, in my second year of playing Aussie rules. It’s incredible, it’s a dream come true.”

She is not the only one excited about her potentially playing in the decider, with O’Shea fully expecting her entire hometown of Macroom, a short drive west of Cork City, to watch the game.

“Definitely, I think the whole town will be at the pub just to watch it,” O’Shea said. “The whole town will be there, a couple of thousand I hope. It is an exciting event for everyone back home.”

It will be an early start for those in Macroom, with the Grand Final set to kick off at 3:30am Irish time.

It is not the first top level grand final O’Shea has found herself preparing for in her young career, also being a member of the Cork Gaelic Football side that went on to play in the 2020 All-Ireland final, losing to Dublin.

O’Shea said there are definitely some huge differences between the build up to the grand final this week and the All-Ireland back then.

“I feel like because here there’s just another level of professionalism and that definitely has a huge difference between here and back home and this is just another level of it’s elite and the facilities and everything are just incredible,” she said.

Despite the differences, O’Shea said that there are still things she learnt back then that she can use this week.

“I feel like playing in the All-Ireland so young, I was the youngest player in the Cork panel that year and I definitely learnt a lot from that and I feel like a lot of the nerves and how to deal with them before a game definitely helped and the experience, and hopefully I’ll be able to bring it this weekend and the nerves will be gone for it,” she said.

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