Brisbane Lions Irish dasher Orla O’Dwyer will celebrate 50 games against the Adelaide Crows on Saturday, becoming one of only a handful of Irish players to reach the milestone.
A 2019 recruit from Tipperary in Ireland, O’Dwyer was a Gaelic football star before making the life-changing decision to uproot her life and move to a city she knew little about.
“It’s surreal considering I only came out a couple of years ago, and to have 50 games under my belt is crazy,” O’Dwyer said.
“When I first came out here, I didn’t really know what the sport was, any of the rules, how to kick the ball, the game-play sense.
“To be considered a 50-gamer now is huge, and I’m so excited for it.”
O’Dwyer was part of a new wave of Lions talent for coach Craig Starcevich’s side when debuting in Round 1, 2020 alongside current teammates Belle Dawes, Cathy Svarc, Lily Postlethwaite and Dakota Davidson.
Fast forward a year and O’Dwyer became the second Irish player to win an AFLW premiership when the Lions took down Adelaide in the 2021 Grand Final.
Now in the midst of her fourth year and fifth season in the AFLW system, O’Dwyer is set to become only the third Irishwoman to reach 50 games when she runs out onto Brighton Homes Arena on Saturday.
A player looking to following in the footsteps of O’Dwyer is the Lions newest Irish recruit Jennifer Dunne.
Speaking ahead of O’Dwyer’s history-making milestone match, Dunne labelled her Irish teammate as an inspiration and mentor for her.
“She was one of the initial players to come out here and make a name for herself, at that time the competition wasn’t as big as it is now, so she took a risk and it’s paid off,” Dunne said.
“Orla has become this household name back in Ireland, whenever I looked at AFLW things back home she would always pop up, she has as many fans as home as she does here.
“It is really nice to have her here, see how she goes about things, how hard she works and being away from family, how resilient she is to be able to perform at such a consistently high level.
“She will take it all in her stride and not really want a huge fuss made but it is obviously amazing and she deserves to be acknowledged.”