The Brisbane Lions proudly signed their first Irish AFLW recruit today, with camogie [women’s hurling] jet Orla O’Dwyer to join the den in 2020 as an other sport rookie.
The 20-year-old is the Captain of the Tipperary camogie team and also plays Gaelic football for Tipperary. Her inclusion in the AFLW next season makes her the Lions’ first triple-code player.
Speaking from Ireland, O’Dwyer said signing on as a professional athlete was every sportswoman’s dream. Currently she balances her study commitments at the University of Limerick, along with her camogie and Gaelic football duties.
“AFLW is something completely new for me and I’m looking forward to the challenge that’s involved with learning a new sport and living in a completely different country,” she said.
“I think it’s great for women’s sport to have this opportunity and I’ve decided to choose AFLW while I’m still very young and because it’s such a great experience.”
After watching the success of Irish players in the AFLW, O’Dwyer applied to global platform CrossCoders, who then helped her get in touch with the Lions in Australia and start the conversation earlier this year.
“It all happened so fast but I’m really happy with my final decision,” she said.
“The Club have been so welcoming and friendly and by chatting with Craig [Starcevich], Bree [Brock] and many more, I know that I am going to be very happy with this Club.
“Brisbane have excellent players and I’m really looking forward to playing at such a high standard with these girls and pushing myself.”
Lions Women’s CEO Breeanna Brock said the Club was delighted to welcome O’Dwyer.
“She’s a special kind of person,” she said.
“Not often are you really drawn to someone so quickly but we felt that right away with Orla.
“She’s already so professional with the way she manages her time between two sports, university and work so we knew she could handle the demands of AFLW.
“The whole process has happened very quickly and smoothly. Jason Hill from Cross Coders really helped with getting it all underway.
They’ve been a fantastic asset is getting the whole process to happen and it’s great that they are enabling these athletes to get opportunities.”
Watching her highlights from Australia, Coach Craig Starcevich was impressed by O’Dwyer’s speed, power and aggression.
“She’s a tremendous athlete who’s got great power and speed but is tough too,” Starcevich said.
“Watching the way she attacks a game both in camogie and football – well, there was a lot to like about the way she goes about it.”
O’Dwyer will now be the second Irish recruit in the Lions Den, alongside James Madden, who played a part in recruiting her.
“It was great to be able to have Jimmy speak with Orla and encourage her that whilst it’s a big decision to come here there’s huge benefits to it,” Brock said.
“I think knowing that there’s another Irish player at the club she could turn to for advice was reassuring for her.”
O’Dwyer will arrive in Australia in October to begin her new career in the AFLW.