Irish players facing tough decision as AFLW season set to kick off in August

THE AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL League Women’s [AFLW] season is set to kick off in August this year, with several Irish players likely facing a big decision as a result. 

A report in Australian outlet The Age confirmed that the AFL Commission informed the clubs in a meeting on Wednesday that it had been given approval for the change to the timing of the next AFLW season. 

The season would run until the end of November or early December. 

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The move would have to be approved by the clubs, including the four new teams who are set to join for next season. Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney will all play in the NAB AFLW competition ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, rounding out all 18 clubs.

The42 understands if the dates are approved, several clubs are planning for pre-season to start in June with challenge games in July. One option for the start date is for AFLW games to be a curtain-raiser for the AFL finals in August. 

This would have a significant knock-on effect for the Irish contingent in Australia. Currently, 14 players are with clubs Down Under. 

Given the All-Ireland ladies football finals are fixed for 31 July, Irish players will likely have to choose between finishing out the inter-county season or presenting on time for pre-season. For the last number of years, players have been able to balance both. 

Established players may be able to arrange a flexible start date with their clubs, but a full pre-season is generally required for new recruits to get up to speed.

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