League in rush to get visa exemptions for Irish gamers

A number of hurdles stand in the way of Irish players traveling to Australia for the upcoming NAB AFLW season.

There are 17 Irish players on AFLW lists, with AFL, AFLPA and player managers working overtime to bring the women into the country.

Irish AFL and AFLW players usually travel to the country on elite sports visas. However, with national borders closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, an exception from the Australian border force is required for every player.

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“The AFL is working to secure the exemptions for the players and hopefully we will have confirmation of that in the next few weeks and we can finalize the visa process and then book flights,” player agent Jason Hill told Women .afl .

Aisling McCarthy shows her disappointment after losing Bulldogs. Image: AFL Photos

Hill, co-founder of the Crosscoders program, has nine Irish players on his books – Aisling McCarthy, Niamh and Grace Kelly, Aine Tighe, Ailish Considine, Aishling Sheridan, Katy Herron, Yvonne Bonner and Orla O’Dwyer turn out to be a problem.

“Orla O’Dwyer is an Australian citizen with an Australian passport so she can book a flight to get here rather than wait for an exemption,” he said.

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“But we are having trouble because flights are being canceled because they are not full enough or because they are too full and would bring Australia over the daily arrivals limit.

“It’s a chicken and egg situation when it comes to booking the right flight.”

Orla O’Dwyer gets a handball away for the Lions. Image: AFL Photos

While Australia – and Melbourne in particular – emerges from COVID-related restrictions, Europe increasingly increases restrictions on movement as winter starts and cases continue to rise.

Ireland has introduced its own “Level 5” restrictions which are on par with Victoria’s fourth level and add an additional emotional complexity to leaving the house.

The All-Ireland Grand Final of Gaelic football is currently scheduled for December 20th. Some players have previously agreed with their AFLW club not to come to Australia until their commitments have expired.

For players with children like Bulldog Katy Herron and the new Giants newcomer Bríd Stack, there are additional things to juggle and consider.

Katy Herron in action for the Bulldogs. Image: AFL Photos

“Ireland is pretty bad right now so there is the emotional aspect of leaving friends and family during this time, which is not great,” said Hill

“If you come out in late December and have to be quarantined for two weeks, it could affect Christmas.

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“Then you have the fact that when this first happened it was quite a whirlwind and girls were on flights within 48 hours of the season being canceled.

“If there was another wave here in Australia and the 2021 season is canceled, the clubs need to be aware of those emotional scars and there won’t necessarily be the number of flights available.” back in March.

“The girls are looking forward to coming to Australia. The main concern for them is that they cannot get a clear picture of what will happen when they are here.”

Grace Kelly in action for the West Coast. Image: AFL Photos


Ailish Considine (Adelaide)
Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane)
Sarah Rowe (Collingwood)
Aishling Sheridan (Collingwood)
Aine Tighe (Fremantle)
Yvonne Bonner (GWS)
Bríd Stack (GWS)
Cora Staunton (GWS)
Sinead Goldrick (Melbourne)
Lauren Magee (Melbourne)
Niamh McEvoy (Melbourne)
Aileen Gilroy (North Melbourne)
Clara Fitzpatrick (St. Kilda)
Grace Kelly (West Coast)
Niamh Kelly (West Coast)
Aisling McCarthy (West Coast)
Katy Herron (Western Bulldogs)

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