Sinéad Goldrick has created a little piece of sporting history by becoming the first All-Ireland ladies senior football winner to add an AFLW Premiership title, as her Melbourne Demons defeated Brisbane Lions 19-15 in the grand final in Springfield, Queensland.
Goldrick, a key member of Dublin’s dominant team that won four All-Ireland titles between 2017 and 2020 before being thwarted by Meath for the five-in-a-row last year, was joined on the winners’ podium by Blaithin Mackin, the Armagh player who is playing AFLW for the first time this season.
Goldrick and Mackin’s achievement mirrors that of Zach Tuohy and Mark O’Connor, who were AFL Premiership winners with Geelong Cats in September.
Melbourne’s success doubles the number of Irish AFLW winners now, following on from Tipperary’s Orla O’Dwyer with Brisbane last year and Clare dual star Ailish Considine who is the first two-time winner, in 2019 and earlier this year with Adelaide. The AFLW has since moved its season so it is played and completed in the second half of the year.
O’Dwyer was bidding for a second AFLW Premiership title with Brisbane but despite the defeat still played a prominent part, making 11 disposals, two marks and six tackles in the course of the game.
Technically, she is the first player to do the AFLW/All-Ireland football double but her All-Ireland titles with Tipperary’s ladies were at intermediate level in 2017 and 2019.
For Goldrick and Melbourne, it is redemption after their loss in the earlier 2022 grand final to Adelaide when her Dublin colleague Lauren Magee was alongside her.
Mackin made her mark with a goal in the second quarter before a crowd of 7,412 at a time when the Demons were adrift by nine points. Her strike, one of only two six-pointers the winners scored in a tight contest, closed the gap to 12-9 and for a season debutante it is quite the achievement, given that there were only four goals in the game.
Melbourne trailed by 12-10 at the main interval but were 17-15 ahead going into the final quarter when they added two more behinds.
Brisbane were favourites, playing at home after topping the league and with the experience of four finals.
Melbourne, who were captained by club legend Daisy Pearce, were competing in a seventh AFLW season and for Goldrick it is a fourth season spent in the league.
However, for the increasing number of Irish recruits the shift in the schedule is getting harder to manage and next year, with the date of the All-Ireland football and hurling finals being pushed back by a week to the last Sunday in July, that challenge will become more difficult again.
Goldrick is 32 and still such an influential member of the Dublin team where her competitiveness stands out. And despite an injury-hit season in Australia which limited her time on the field after a knee injury, she was still in thick of the action at the Brisbane venue, a new training ground for the AFL’s Lions, where her defensive abilities stood out.
Irish interest in the AFLW has soared again this season with 22 involved and big performances throughout from Leitrim’s Áine Tighe with Fremantle, and Meath’s Vikki Wall with North Melbourne, in particular.