West Coast has added another Irish star to its AFLW squad by bringing former Western Bulldogs midfielder Aisling McCarthy into the nest.
The Eagles swooped early during the 2020 AFLW Sign and Trade period, executing a deal that secured McCarthy and pick No.3 in the 2020 AFLW Draft from the Bulldogs in exchange for West Coast’s first round draft selection (pick No.2) and its priority draft selection (pick No.16).
It was announced last month that West Coast and Richmond would be provided competition assistance in the form of an additional draft selection at the end of the first round of the 2020 AFLW Draft.
However, the AFLW ruled that the clubs had to on-trade the selection to acquire ready-made talent.
McCarthy, 22, was among the first Gaelic football athletes to break on to the AFLW scene, arriving at the Bulldogs in 2019.
The County Tipperary product hit the ground running and quickly established herself as a mainstay of the Bulldogs’ senior team.
She made six AFLW appearances in her debut season, booting seven goals and averaging more than 10 disposals per game playing in a predominantly forward role before transitioning to the midfield in 2020, where she averaged 13.5 disposals and four tackles per game.
McCarthy has signed with the Eagles for two years, ensuring she will don blue and gold until at least the end of season 2022.
West Coast Eagles head of female football Adam Selwood said McCarthy would be a welcome addition to the club’s burgeoning onball brigade.
“It was a priority of the program to continue build our midfield depth from the 2020 season,” Selwood said.
“Head AFLW recruiter Chad Morrision and myself tracked Aisling’s development with the Western Bulldogs over the past 18 months and have been extremely impressed with how well she had taken up the game and her consistent impact at AFLW level.
“Not only does Aisling provide us with another strong-bodied and poised midfielder, she has the ability to push forward and become a dangerous threat in our forward line.
“Aisling is a long-term proposition for our football program and we cannot wait to get her out to Western Australia to join her new teammates and familiarise herself with the West Coast Eagles family.”
McCarthy said she could not wait to don the club’s revered wings.
“I’m really excited to join the West Coast Eagles and continue to build on the foundations they put down in their debut season,” McCarthy said.
“After speaking with senior coach Luke Dwyer, I was excited about how he plans to use my strengths to potentially add something different to the midfield. I’m really excited to put my hand up for a spot in the midfield next year.”
McCarthy was particularly eager to work with West Coast leadership duo Emma Swanson and Dana Hooker next year.
“Playing against West Coast last year, I came across Emma Swanson and Dana Hooker in the midfield. They were both formidable opponents and from the outside looking in and showed great leadership qualities,” she said.
“I’m really excited to hopefully play alongside those top class players and get to know them off the field too.”
She will also have the opportunity to play with fellow Irish talents Grace and Niamh Kelly, who today signed contract extensions to remain with the Eagles until the end of season 2022.
“It’ll be great to have other Irish players in Grace and Niamh Kelly alongside me,” McCarthy said.
“We will have a great understanding of each other from our Gaelic football background and I’m sure we can bring something different to the table.”
McCarthy is currently representing Tipperary in the All-Ireland Gaelic football Championship.
She will relocate to Perth ahead of the 2021 AFLW pre-season, which begins on November 4.