Cork players not opposed to careers Down Under, says agent

Cork players not opposed to careers Down Under, says agent

A leading agent heavily involved in the recruitment of Irish women by AFLW teams has claimed it's 'incorrect' to suggest that Cork players aren't interested in careers in Australia.

Mayo ladies manager Peter Leahy has confirmed that in future any of his players who wish to play in the AFLW throughout winter and spring 'we'd have to omit from the panel and carry on regardless'.

Four Mayo players - Sarah Rowe, Aileen Gilroy, Niamh Kelly and Grace Kelly - were among 18 Irish women on AFLW club lists earlier this year.

None of the 18 hail from Cork and Leahy commented: "There's a reason why none of the Cork players go to Australia - because every time they put on a Cork jersey, they want to win everything and genuinely believe they can win everything. 

"Mayo people need to start believing in that too because we have a genuine team at the top level."

Melbourne based Jason Hill, whose CrossCoders agency represents 12 of the 18 players, including the Kelly sisters from Mayo, rejected Leahy's assertion regarding Cork players.

"Although he says that no Cork girls go, that's not because none have tried," said Hill in an interview with Midwest radio. "That would be incorrect. 

"I know that some girls have turned down the opportunity but I also know that I've probably had somewhere between 20 and 30 Irish sportswomen contact me over the last two months, especially with the lockdowns that have happened in Ireland, asking me how they could be preparing now to get in front of scouts from the AFLW to then make their move.

I feel like management might have one idea what's going on and they might have an idea of what they're seeing in the public, but in reality I think there's a lot of conversations going on behind closed doors that would be the opposite.

The AFL season is scheduled to begin on June 8, behind closed doors, and Hill said his understanding is that the AFLW campaign will go ahead as planned early next year.

Irish players have typically teamed up for pre-season activity in early November though any Mayo players looking to travel later this year could be jeopardising their county careers.

Hill hit out at Leahy's stance and insisted there's no proof that spending the winter and spring months Down Under has any impact on players' performance.

"Orla O'Dwyer is another client of ours," said Hill. 

"She plays for Tipperary in both camogie and Gaelic football and then has added AFLW so she's a tri-sport athlete at the highest level. 

"I'd agree (with Leahy) if there was an overlap but the fact is that they can play both. 

"Sarah, Ashling McCarthy, Yvonne Bonner, Ailish Considine, they've all been able to play both sports and they've all been able to play at the highest level.

"It's not like they've come back a worse player and therefore been dropped because of performance issues. 

"They've actually come back and I'd say someone like Ashling McCarthy has taken her game to another level in Gaelic football. 

"I'd question his stance because I don't understand what proof he has to say they can't do it."

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