Converting from Gaelic Football to Australian Rules might seem daunting, but first-year Eagle Grace Kelly is embracing physicality of AFLW.
The 25-year-old forward came to the Eagles with her younger sister Niamh as an international rookie selection and both were named for the club’s round one clash with Collingwood last Sunday.
Kelly said that while training sessions and practice matches had given her a taste of what was to come, her first official AFLW contest was something of an eye opener.
“We had two practice games before so I kind of knew what I was getting myself into, but I suppose the intensity and the physicality of the game really gets to you in round one,” Kelly said.
“There’s nothing like the actual AFLW competition. I got a few belts at the start and I was like, ‘Woah, yep we’re playing AFL here’.
“I like it actually; I’ve got a lot of bruises that I wouldn’t have got in Gaelic football. I enjoyed the tackling,
“It takes a while to get in to it, but once you lay one tackle it’s like an adrenaline rush, you want more.”
Kelly almost claimed West Coast’s second ever goal with an ambitious left-foot snap that narrowly sailed wide in the opening quarter.
While she was disappointed with the round one loss to Collingwood, Kelly found signs for optimism in the team’s performance.
“We had a great first quarter. We played how we wanted to play, applied pressure to the opposition and worked really hard,” she said.
Looking ahead to the Eagles’ first home game against Fremantle, Kelly could find at least one constant between playing for the Eagles and her representative Gaelic football side, County Mayo.
“It’s the same principles really, just working hard, work for each other and try to play more as a team,” she said.
Kelly said that she expected Saturday’s maiden RAC Derby to be another physical contest.
“There’ll probably be more tackles than in any other game this season,” she said.