Aisling McCarthy grew up in County Tipperary in the South of Ireland, where the summers are mild and muggy and the winters are long, wet and windy.
But, despite the totally incomparable climate, there’s one thing that Tipperary and Western Australia have in common … they both love their football.
“Both of my parents brought me down to the local GA club, when I was six or seven, and I would’ve played with both the girls and the boys teams as I was growing up.” McCarthy said.
The similarities to AFL run deep, with both codes boasting free-flowing and openly-contested games.
And the likeness doesn’t stop there, with both styles of football also featuring goals and behinds, bouncing, and handballs.
Yet McCarthy wasn’t aware such a similar sport was being played on the other side of the globe.
“It’s just something that wasn’t even on my radar as a girl growing up.” McCarthy said.
“I’m still learning the game but I’m really enjoying it.
“It really is about the love of the game, so to be able to come over here and experience a fresh environment is great.”
That’s why McCarthy decided to pack her bags and head for the land down under in 2018, keen to compete at a higher level.
While Gaelic football was a natural part of growing up, the next step just seemed imminent.
“It’s just an amateur sport, and probably always will be, because you play from where you’re from." McCarthy said.
“But, it’s similar enough to the AFL standard over here … we put in the same amount of hours and have the same sports philosophies and sciences to what we do.
“I’m still new to the game … so I’m probably a bit naïve when it comes to the different rules, just the way you play.
“I probably come across as a bit unpredictable at times, I do feel like the Irish girls probably do bring a little bit of that unpredictability to the game.
“I just try and hunt the football – see football, hunt football, that’s the kind of attitude I bring.”
And see football, hunt football she does.
McCarthy's debut season was comprised of six matches up forward, where she booted seven goals and averaged above 10 disposals a game.
After a readjustment to the midfield in 2020, she upped the ante, with an average of 13.5 disposals and four tackles per game.
This season is her real breakout.
McCarthy ranks second-best at the club in terms of disposals, at 44 from three matches; and also reigns first in clearances at 11.
She also boasts the most contested possessions and metres gained, at an average of 26 and 815 respectively.
“There’s parts of the game where adrenaline takes over, I 'spose' it’s those big hits as well, where you really just get stuck into the game.” McCarthy said.
“When the game gets hot, and it’s quite contested footy, I think that’s where I relish the challenge the most.
“I think not thinking too hard about it, not what’s coming next, and just going for the football, and trying to do the best for the team, is what I try to do.”
This contested form of footy is something McCarthy has grown easily accustomed to, considering Gaelic football is a non-contact sport.
And this is reflected in her stats, where she’s currently ranked number one at the West Coast Eagles in terms of tackles, sitting on 18 from three matches.
“There’s definitely a mindset you have to have when you come over here to adapt to the physicality, and just know that you can get tackled from a 360(-degree) angle.” McCarthy said.
“Even just being able to push off your opponents and stuff like that, it is a bit of a challenge.
“It does allow you to be competitive around the football, and it’s something that I think that it’s something we enjoy because we don’t get to do too much of it at home.”
Although her home will always be in Ireland, she still loves the Australian culture.
“Australia is a brilliant country … the weather, the beaches, everything, I’m really enjoying life in Perth,” McCarthy said.
“The people, the girls I’ve met over here and the club has been brilliant, too.
“Just being able to marry both travelling to the other side of the world, and playing a professional sport, I think, has been brilliant.”