Jennifer Dunne travelled to Australia in August 2023, fresh off an All-Ireland premiership with her beloved club Dublin and about to try her hand at AFLW with the Brisbane Lions.
Little did she know she’d return home five months later with not just AFLW experience to show, but a premiership medal.
Thrust into the cauldron of the AFLW only a mere five weeks after arriving in Australia, Dunne would debut in Round 3 against the Sydney Swans.
From there the Irish import only grew in confidence playing a key role in every match for the remainder of the year, not bad for someone who only picked up a Sherrin in July 2023.
“At Christmas last year I was talking to Nat (Grider) and its mad to think a year later we are winning the pinnacle, it’s surreal to think,” Dunne said.
“To think of the player I was during my debut, to what I was in finals is like chalk and cheese.
“I’ve been lucky enough to win four premierships at home and now I’ve won this.”
It was a whirlwind four months for the budding defender.
Immediately after celebrating a competition win with her Dublin teammates, Dunne would find herself on a plane travelling halfway across the world, unsure what the future would hold.
“When you’ve won it makes it harder to leave, because you’ve worked towards something and its fun.
“We won on the Sunday and I was on the plane two days later.
“It was a 24-hour flight and I had time to think and thought why am I coming to Australia.”
Despite the natural feeling of anxiousness that comes with uprooting your life to move halfway across the world and play a game you’ve never played before, this wasn’t a flash in the pan decision.
It was Lions AFLW senior coach Craig Starcevich who spotted Dunne’s talent in the Irish summer of 2022 and began planting the seed of a trip down under.
“Everyone sells you a story, every club was very open but having conversations with Craig over the years, I was really excited for this opportunity.
“To have some of the girls come over to Ireland along with Craig, who met my mum and dad, it gave me an idea of what I was getting into.
“It is a big trip and a big decision to make so it can be daunting but knowing I was going to be surrounded by people who were going to look after me as definitely a selling point.”
Starcevich is an awe of what Dunne has been able to achieve in the space of one season.
“Jennifer is the only person on the planet to win and All-Ireland championship and an AFLW premiership in the same season,” Starcevich said.
“She is the third person to do the double, but the only person to do it in one year.”
Dunne joins Tadhg Kennelly and Sinead Goldrick as one of three players to achieve the awe-inspiring feat.
However, as Starcevich shrewdly observed, Dunne went one better to become the only person on the planet to win both in the same year.