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Melbourne Football Club

Corrigan, Downie join as free agents

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 12: Melbourne Demons Elise O'Dea announces the number eight draft pick during the 2016 NAB AFLW Draft at NAB Building on October 12, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 12: Melbourne Demons Elise O'Dea announces the number eight draft pick during the 2016 NAB AFLW Draft at NAB Building on October 12, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
’Irish’ is a really good addition to the team. She brings experience, given that we’ve got 10 players under 20 years of age
Debbie Lee

MELBOURNE has secured Laura Corrigan and Meg Downie as two of its three free agents for its 2017 women’s squad.

Women’s football operations manager Debbie Lee said Corrigan (affectionately known as Irish, as she hails from County Cavan) and Downie were two experienced recruits.

“’Irish’ is a really good addition to the team. She brings experience, given that we’ve got 10 players under 20 years of age,” she told melbournefc.com.au.

“She’s a really tough, competitive player and also brings height to the team, so we see her as a tall defender and a second ruck option.

“With Meg, although she’s been out with injury, we’re confident that she’ll be back out on the track for the start of pre-season. We’ve done a full medical on her and we’re comfortable where she’s at with her rehab.

“She’s played state football and also brings experience to the team. Meg’s a versatile player who can play back and on the wing and adds height to the team.” 

Corrigan, who has been in Australia for nine years, said it was a great opportunity to become the first female Irish player for Melbourne.  And she is fully aware of the legacy held by the late, great Jim Stynes at the club.

“It’s all pretty surreal at the moment … but it’s a dream,” she said.

“I came to Australia backpacking nine years ago and I wanted to give the game a go.

“Now I’m getting the opportunity to play AFL – it’s unbelievable.”

Corrigan, 33, started her career with Melbourne University, but has played the past seven seasons with Diamond Creek. She has also played in seven Grand Finals.

Downie, 27, hails from St Kilda Sharks. Before 2016, she had a three-year gap, and previously played for Eastern Devils for four years. But her football journey started when she grew up in Gippsland.

“I started playing football when I was about 10 years old for a club out in the country called Buln Buln, which was a boys’ club and a football/netball club,” she told melbournefc.com.au.

“I always got questions ‘why do you want to play footy as opposed to netball?’. I’ve always been extremely passionate about footy. I grew up with three brothers out on a dairy farm, so we were always out in the paddock kicking the ball together. I played at Buln Buln, near Warragul, for four years. Then I got too old and couldn’t play in under 13s.

“I moved to Melbourne when I was 19 years old, so I could go to university and that’s when I started playing for the Eastern Devils, which was East Burwood back at the time. That’s where I fell in love with the culture of women’s football. It has such a community feel to it.

“I had four amazing years there and then had some time off and then focused on my career for a few years. That’s when I started off at ANZ and then I got itchy feet and all of my mates were playing still.

“I thought ‘what am I doing, how can I not be playing footy?’ I had some time off and that passion came back and that’s when I started at the Sharks, as I lived down the road at Prahran and the Devils moved out to Mulgrave. So I started at the Sharks this year.”

Melbourne will name its final free agent next week.