By Colm O’Connor
Mayo legend Cora Staunton has inked a new deal with AFL outfit Greater Western Sydney Giants — but won’t be returning to Australia until November.
Hopes are now high in Mayo that Staunton, a four-time All-Ireland winner, will return to the county fold for the championship after she missed the entire National League campaign following a successful debut season in Sydney.
The 36-year-old became the first international player signed by a women’s Aussie Rules side in 2017 and capped a remarkable spring by winning the club’s Goal of the Year award.
Staunton, who captained Carnacon to a sixth All-Ireland senior club title prior to her departure to Australia, was due to have talks with Mayo manager Peter Leahy about her summer plans after last month’s league final.
However, it remains unclear if the pair have met.
Though she had returned to Ireland, Staunton did not play in the league final defeat to Dublin but Leahy insisted at the time that there was no rift between the pair.
A Sydney Giants statement yesterday said: “Irish sensation Cora Staunton, who lit up the competition in 2018 with her unique kicking style and hard-nosed attack at the football, will return to Western Sydney for a second season. The Ladies Gaelic Football legend will join the Giants once her duties with county Mayo conclude in November.”
Before Staunton first went out to Australia last November, she said: "It's going to be difficult but it's a challenge that I'm looking forward to and relishing."