Donegal star McLaughlin reveals value of AFLW switch

The 29-year-old former Sunderland and Newcastle soccer player will compete for around four months before returning for Christmas
Donegal star McLaughlin reveals value of AFLW switch

17 March 2023; Niamh McLaughlin, right, and Katy Herron of Donegal after the Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 match between Donegal and Dublin at O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny, Donegal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Reigning Player of the Year Niamh McLaughlin has opened up about the finances of her move to the AFLW, revealing it's worth almost 40,000 Australian dollars.

The Donegal star has agreed to join the Gold Coast Suns though won't depart until after the Championship.

The 29-year-old former Sunderland and Newcastle soccer player will compete for around four months before returning for Christmas and resuming her career as a physio.

Speaking on The GAA Social podcast, McLaughlin said that while the limited number of tier one players in the AFLW get paid 'roughly 70 to 80 grand' per season, she will be a tier four player receiving what she equates to 'around 26, 27,000 euros'.

With her accommodation also set to be paid for, it is an attractive proposition and McLaughlin said the overall opportunity was too good to turn down.

"So it's 39,000 dollars but they're paying your accommodation," said McLaughlin. "I suppose at the minute I'm only going to be there from August, at the start of the season, potentially to November or December. You come back at Christmas. So that's four or five months."

McLaughlin agreed that the condensed season, roughly equating to around 10,000 dollars of pay per month, makes it financially viable.

"It makes it more doable, definitely," she added. "And obviously with it being a professional setup they have their canteen, their food, their lunches, that sort of stuff. When you're at training as well that'll be provided so it takes that (expense) away from you too."

McLaughlin said she was initially sounded out about potentially heading Down Under as far back as last April, before her Championship heroics with Donegal. It is the latest intriguing twist in a career that has also seen the Moville woman overcome three separate cruciate knee ligament setbacks, the most recent of which was in 2017.

Current Donegal captain McLaughlin insisted that money isn't the motivation behind her move to join the large group of Irish in the AFLW.

"Money was never the driver for me at all, to be honest it wasn't," she said. "I'm going because it's nearly too good an opportunity to turn down. I'm 29, I'm not old, I've had these injuries in the past, I've missed out on things, I've been successful as well and been fortunate to play on some really good teams. For me it's just the experience, go and try my hand at another sport, see if I can give anything back to another team and maybe help them progress as well."

McLaughlin will follow in the footsteps of 2021 LGFA Player of the Year recipient Vikki Wall who joined North Melbourne last year. She said she doesn't understand why any Irish players would be criticised or questioned for taking the plunge.

"There definitely has been a lot of chat about it, I'm not really sure why," she said. "I spoke about it last year, I think it's definitely an opportunity that I don't think you should say no to straight away. You should have a think about it. We train and play here more or less as professional athletes, you give your all to your sport. I think that opportunity is nearly too good to turn away, if it's right for you. Obviously it's not right for everyone."

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