MELBOURNE will add further international talent to its AFL Women’s team next year, securing Gaelic footballer Lauren Magee for the 2021 season.
In another big move for the Demons, Magee will join fellow Irish recruits Niamh McEvoy and Sinead Goldrick, becoming the first trio from the same county to represent a club in the competition.
Magee, who also represents Dublin under the Dublin Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), will make the move with three All-Ireland Senior Ladies’ Football Championships under her belt, with the hope of adding a fourth later this year.
Having followed Magee’s Gaelic efforts last season, AFLW list manager Todd Patterson said he was thrilled to be welcoming the talent to Melbourne.
“It’s really exciting for us to be able to sign Lauren and have her join our women’s program,” he told Melbourne Media.
“Lauren is an explosive and aggressive player, who has had a very successful career for Dublin over a long period of time.
“She is really invested in learning the game and has already shown great improvement in the time that we have known her.
“Lauren is a really exciting prospect for our program and our club.”
Magee, who has achieved an All-Star Award in 2018 – the equivalent of AFL’s All Australian Award – is set to bring plenty of pace.
With a rich sporting heritage, in which her dad and uncle played at the professional Gaelic level, the 23-year-old is delighted to be joining the Demons.
“It’s an incredible experience to be given the opportunity to play AFLW, especially for a club like Melbourne that has a close connection to Dublin GAA,” Magee told Melbourne Media.
“I decided to pursue AFLW as a personal challenge, to learn a new game and its skills.
“I really respect the game and to train and play at a professional level is something I’m extremely grateful for.”
Playing alongside McEvoy and Goldrick for several years at Dublin, Magee said the pair were a big factor in making the switch.
“They have definitely been a huge influence on my decision to go to Melbourne,” she said.
“Listening to them speak about their experience with the club is inspiring and so positive, and it makes the prospect of moving so far away much easier for me.
“I was following all their games last year, so can’t wait to be training with them once my Dublin season is over.”
While the pair will be a friendly reminder of home, they will also be a big part of Magee’s development.
With a season of AFLW in the books, Patterson said McEvoy and Goldrick will be invaluable in helping prepare their fellow recruit.
“It’ll be great having Lauren learn the game, not only from our group but also Niamh and Sinead, who had had the experience before,” he said.
“This will set Lauren up well to be a strong contributor for a number of years to come.”
The signings, again, carry a special meaning for the Demons, with the late Jim Stynes hailing from the county.
And Melbourne hopes its ongoing relationship with Dublin would be one that would make the red and blue favourite proud.
“We can’t thank Dublin enough for their support of all three girls,” Patterson said.
“The connection to Dublin is one that holds great meaning and value to our club, and it’s really special that we can continue Jim’s legacy.
“Having personally met with Mick Bohan, it is clear why the three girls have had the amount of success they have had under his management.
“They do miss National League fixtures (one of the two major trophies) whilst being here, so for Mick and Dublin to support them in pursuing additional dreams and experiences is something we are very grateful for.”
Magee was just as appreciative, expressing her thanks for her home club.
“I don’t think I’d be given the chance to play for Melbourne if it wasn’t for the development and training that I got through all my club and Dublin coaches over the years,” she said.
“I’m very grateful to them.”
The trio will join the Demons after their Dublin campaign, which is set to conclude later this year.
Melbourne now has 24 players locked in for its 2020 squad, with the option of adding another rookie before heading to the AFLW Draft later this year.