Cora Staunton confident she can master Aussie Rules

Ladies football legend Cora Staunton says she is “relishing the big challenge” of trying to make a name for herself in Australia next spring.
Cora Staunton confident she can master Aussie Rules

The four-time All-Ireland winner with Mayo became the first international athlete to be drafted to play in the AFLW when she was signed yesterday by the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

Staunton, who will be 36 in December, only arrived in Australia on Tuesday, but made a big impression on GWSG head coach Alan McConnell and men’s assistant coach Nick Walsh, a former Cavan footballer.

“It’s been a hectic two days but I’m absolutely delighted, I knew it was in the pipeline going over, so I’m delighted to have signed for them,” Staunton told Mid West Radio.

“It’s going to be a big change. I went to the club on Tuesday morning when I arrived over and spent the day there just doing different bits of testing and stuff and did a few skills sessions. I’ll do some on Thursday and Friday as well, before I go back.

“It’s a bit different, obviously, with the football, but a lot of the skills from rugby and [Gaelic] football are transferable over. The biggest change for me, obviously, is the ball, being an oval ball and learning how to kick.

“There’s great coaches in the club and they taught me a lot, even in the day that I was here, so I’ve no doubt that I’ll pick it up, and I’ll probably do some practising when I’m home for the next few weeks, as well.

“But I’d be confident enough about picking it up. It will be tough, but there’s no pressure on me to go out and be the top performer or anything like that.

“I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be a challenge, but a challenge that I’m going to relish.”

Staunton is due to return to Ireland next weekend to resume training with her Carnacon team-mates ahead of their Connacht ladies club championship final on Sunday week next. The 10-time All Star intends to return to Australia, once Carnacon’s interest in the club championship ends, to begin pre-season training ahead of the AFLW season, which kicks off at the end of January.

The league is a seven-game series, with the top teams advancing to a Grand Final, which will be played at the end of March.

However, Staunton, who won her 19th Mayo senior club championship medal recently, says her focus will be on Carnacon once she arrives back on home soil.

“I’ll be back into it straight away,” she explained. “I’m back on Sunday morning for club training and then I’m heading to the men’s county final to support Ballintubber.

“I’ve missed a couple of club sessions, alright, but I’ve been keeping myself ticking over.

“That’s our main focus now. We’re playing Kilkerrin/Clonberne, who are going to be a big challenge, on Sunday week. They have been for the last number of years, but we’re hoping to have a good run with the club, they’re the ones that have set me up to get me to where I am today, so my full focus is with them.”

Staunton, who has scored 59-483 during her 67 senior championship matches for Mayo, lined out in the county’s All-Ireland final defeat to Dublin at Croke Park last month.

Many observers felt that would have been her last game in a Mayo jersey, but the woman herself said yesterday that she was “not ruling anything in or out at the moment” in relation to her inter-county future.

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