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Roger Vaughan

Martin weathers blows to reach AFLW grand final

North Melbourne's preliminary final win over Adelaide came at a painful price for Niamh Martin (28). (Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS)

Niamh Martin ruefully jokes she has her AFLW grand final look all sorted.

The North Melbourne player's parents flew out from her native Ireland for last Sunday's preliminary final against Adelaide and were shocked when their daughter had a heavy collision only a few metres in front of them early in the game.

Martin was cleared to return to the field, but only minutes later was forced off again following a nasty knock to her left eye.

She did not need a concussion test and will play against the Brisbane Lions in Sunday's grand final at Ikon Park, referring to her fat lip and bruised eye socket as "lipstick, eye shadow".

"I look tough now for Sunday," Martin said.

Martin has a sore jaw and several bruises after North's epic one-point preliminary final win over the Crows, but otherwise is "all grand".

"I definitely struggled on Sunday night trying to eat my dinner, but luckily I woke up feeling better than I thought I would," she said.

Parents Mike and Ann were going to fly back after the game, but have extended their stay to take in the grand final.

By the final siren they had recovered from the early shock of being sure their daughter had a broken jaw.

"They're typical Irish, they gave the tough love - 'Ah, you're grand'," Martin said with a laugh.

The 23-year-old laughs a lot and cannot believe her good fortune.

She is part of the influx of Irish players that have been a highlight of this AFLW season.

"I'm delighted I made the move," she said. 

"It was a hard transition - a few days when you'd be questioning whether this is for me. 'Did I make the right decision?'. 

"To end up in a grand final, it definitely was the right decision. Thank God I took it.

"It's an opportunity you can't let slide."

One of her opponents in Sunday's showpiece, Brisbane star Orla O'Dwyer, was a teammate of Martin's when they helped Tipperary win an All-Ireland intermediate final in Gaelic football four years ago.

West Coast player Aisling McCarthy is another Tipperary alumna who has inspired Martin.

Rapt about the Tipperary representation in Sunday's grand final, Martin has great respect for O'Dwyer.

"I don't like playing against her, but it's exciting to be in a position to play against her," Martin said.

"And she's been nothing but encouraging since I came onto the Tipperary team.

"Whatever happens, at least the cup is going to Tipperary."

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