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Dublin is now my priority

Complications caused by coronavirus mean no quick decision over Oz return

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Dublin footballer Sinéad Goldrick at the Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camp in St Brendan’s GAA Club, Dublin

Dublin footballer Sinéad Goldrick at the Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camp in St Brendan’s GAA Club, Dublin

SPORTSFILE

Dublin footballer Sinéad Goldrick at the Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camp in St Brendan’s GAA Club, Dublin

Fears that heightened demand for players will precipitate a drain of Irish talent to the AFLW may be premature, according to Sineád Goldrick as she weighs up whether to return to Australia.

The signing date for AFLW clubs is between August 1st and August 17th and Goldrick, the three-time All-Ireland winner with Dublin, is currently mulling over the offer of a second year with Melbourne.

Last year, 18 Irish players were scattered across the books of the AFLW's 14 teams. Several more are understood to have been invited to trial for an expanded league in 2021, with four extra clubs being introduced for the competition's fifth year.

Contracts will feature enhanced terms, in line with last year's collective bargaining agreement.

And the quick adaptation of Goldrick and several other Irish exports has prompted fears that the AFLW will accelerate their recruitment drive in Ireland.

"I think it will be quite harder in a few years for Ladies Gaelic footballers to come over because the young players there, I see them playing off both feet and I do think the AFLW will get stronger and stronger," Goldrick predicted.

Remuneration

"They might not want Ladies Gaelic Footballers because they do have the talent over there."

The appeal of the life of a semi-professional athlete in Australia is obvious.

Last year, 16 of the 18 Irish players were on tier four contacts for the abandoned 2020 season, although some also serve ambassador roles for which they receive additional remuneration.

In 2021, tier four contracts - which make up the majority of the 24 players at each club - are worth AUS$17,473 (€11,448), increasing to $20,239 (€12,543) the following season.

Those contracts will cover 310.5 hours, broken down into a 10-week pre-season, a nine-week home and away season, before a three-week finals series.

At the top end, each club has at least two players on a tier one contract worth $32,077 (€18,879).

By comparison, a first-round draft pick in the men's game receives $88,000 (€54,062) for their first season.

Mostly, players juggle training and games, plus various sponsorship and league requirements, with full-time or part-time work or study.

There are complications, however.

A year ago, Ireland's recruits were dealing with the uncertainty that the league might not go ahead due to turbulent negotiations over pay and conditions.

Now they have to factor in lockdowns, no-fly zones and quarantines.

A record high of 191 new coronavirus cases on July 7 prompted the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, to reintroduce stage three restrictions across all of metropolitan Melbourne, where Goldrick lived until returning in March.

"Dublin will be my first priority over the AFL," Goldrick stressed, "and just with Covid, Melbourne are back in lockdown and still only out for an hour a week, then there's the Dublin championship...and we're not even sure what's going to happen with Dublin next year."

Factors

"So there are just so many factors there that I keep changing and you kind of have to take all the factors into account, and it will be a conversation with Mick (Bohan), and whatever he says I'll be happy to do because Dublin is my priority."

So far, choosing between the two hasn't been a requirement.

Goldrick admits: "once I was able to do both, I was happy."

"I think if we had a conversation in Dublin or my club team weren't happy with me (going), I don't think I would have gone. I love playing for Dublin, I just have such pride in it.

"You're friends with those people and that's what came across most of all, so I think realising that over Covid that they're your team-mates but that they're your friends, and then obviously when we're back training with Dublin, we're just going to be very happy to be with each other.

"I keep saying it and some people don't believe me - at the moment I'm just happy to be back playing football.

"Because," Goldrick concludes, "I actually wondered was there going to be a season for a good bit."