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Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh focused on Kerry amid growing Irish AFLW contingent

Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh

Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh remains totally focused on Kerry and on Gaelic football amid the growing Irish contingent in Australia.

The AFLW has become home to plenty of Irish talent in recent years, and the number of Gaelic footballers playing Aussie Rules looks set to grow, with wages in the league increasing by 94 per cent across the board.

Since the inaugural AFLW season in 2017, Irish players have been able to play Aussie Rules and inter-county Gaelic football in the All-Ireland Championship, as the Australian season finished up in either March or April.

However, those days now look to be a thing of the past with the announcement that the next AFLW season will start in August and finish in November, with Irish players set to head Down Under in June for pre-season.

Ní Mhuircheartaigh was speaking after being named as the PwC GPA women’s Gaelic footballer of the month for March and was unsure if the increasingly lucrative AFLW contracts would persuade players to opt out of the championship.

The growing Irish contingent in the AFLW.

“It could attract people. I think as well that the change in the season, and the possibility of missing out on championship back at home, might have people staying in Ireland as well. It will be interesting to see,” Ní Mhuircheartaigh commented.

“It is hard to tell. You already see that Erika O’Shea is going over from Cork. Everyone knows Vikki Wall is going over.

“I suppose the girls that are already there for the past few years will probably go over again because they have experienced that, and they all seem to be getting on really, really well. I’d say they are loving the professional life.”

While a number of high-profile players have opted to take up AFLW contracts, Ní Mhuircheartaigh revealed that nobody in the Kerry set-up is currently planning to do so, although some in the Kingdom are interested.

“In Kerry, not so much. I’m not so sure if people have been asked. We’ve been talking about the girls that are over there, and how well they are getting on.

“You’d ask some of the girls would they go over if you got asked, and some girls would be willing to go, and experience it.”

Munster Championship final against Cork.

Ní Mhuircheartaigh’s attention is firmly on Gaelic football, and there is no shortage of big games coming up for Kerry as they play Cork in the Munster Championship final next Saturday.

The Munster Championship isn’t directly linked to the All-Ireland as it is in the men’s game, as Kerry’s place in the All-Ireland is assured whether or not they beat Cork, although it does have an effect on what group they enter.

The Kerry stalwart has insisted the game has plenty of significance regardless and is hoping that the Kingdom can use it as a springboard to further success this summer.

“Winning becomes a habit so absolutely [we want to win]. We don’t have many Munster titles so it’s nice to win these when you get a chance,” Ní Mhuircheartaigh explained.

“Look, we know it’s going to be a massive battle with Cork, it always is. No, we’ll be hoping to get over the line. But as I said, it’s going to be a huge game. We have to be performing at our best.”

Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh is a big fan of double headers.

The game is being played as part of a double header with the men’s Munster football final between Kerry and Limerick at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney, which will bring more eyeballs to both matches.

Ní Mhuircheartaigh is in full support of the double headers as it gives her and her team mates an opportunity to show their talents to people who wouldn’t have watched them otherwise.

“In the past few years, we’ve seen a bit more of it. We had it with our Munster semi-final against Tipp. It was great,” Ní Mhuircheartaigh said.

“We were talking outside there, and even people to see the ladies game, and realise ‘there’s a great standard there’, they tend to come to more games then. It’s going to be a big occasion.

“I suppose you’d be hoping that there will be a big crowd. When the ball is thrown in, everyone just seems to be focused on that.

“Even in the last year, you wouldn’t have realised the big crowd that was there when you were playing, unless you get a score and the crowd gets behind you. It’s a great experience.”

PwC GPA Players of the Month for March in camogie, Róisín McCormick (Antrim GAA) and in ladies football, Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (Kerry GAA), alongside PwC GAA/GPA Hurler of the Month for March Stephen Bennett (Waterford GAA) with their awards today at PwC’s Cork offices.

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