Irish Kelly sisters shine for AFLW Eagles

Chris Pike

The next Irish stars to take over Down Under may have been on show on the wide expanses of Perth's Leederville Oval as Niamh and Grace Kelly helped the West Coast Eagles make AFLW history.

The Kelly sisters had been part of a strong forward-line in Gaelic football for County Mayo back in Ireland, but nobody could have predicted they would take to Australian football so quickly.

As part of the Eagles forward set up on Saturday, the pair had a significant impact on the club's first-ever AFLW victory - a 4.6 (30) to 3.8 (26) win over the QWestern Bulldfogs - and it was Grace who kicked the sealing goal.

She showed her speed and athleticism by running onto a ball that went over the head of her and her opponent, gathered and ran it in to kick truly.

That was far from the only shining moment for the Kelly sisters who were playing just their fourth games of Australian football having joined the Eagles as rookies for 2020.

Older sister Grace has settled into a role at full-forward and looked dangerous all afternoon finishing with 14 disposals, four marks, three tackles and then that goal.

Younger sister Niamh played more off half-forward but was equally as dangerous with 16 disposals and two behinds.

Coach Luke Dwyer couldn't be more impressed.

"They were great today, they really were. Grace and Niamh, I think Leederville Oval suited their aerobic capacity, and their ability to cover the ground," Dwyer said.

"Certainly Grace's speed at times was quite noticeable and they were great. We had a lot of great contributors but certainly we are really pleased for those two girls to get a win in their fourth ever game of football."

Captain Emma Swanson was best afield, though, with 22 possessions while Dana Hooker, Mikayla Bowen, Ashlee Atkins, Imahra Cameron and ruck Parris Laurie were all impressive.

It was an emotional occasion for the Eagles to break through for the win after three largely non-competitive losses to Collingwood, Fremantle and the GWS Giants to begin life in AFLW.

Dwyer wants everyone involved to stop and smell the roses briefly, but then turn their focus to backing up the performance against Melbourne at Casey Fields next Sunday.

"I'm just really pleased for all the people that have supported this team since inception, I talk of Adam Selwood, Trevor Nisbett," Dwyer said.

"I certainly hope everyone around this team takes a moment to enjoy this, but we know that this competition keeps moving and we'll prepare as best we can to be ready for next week.

"We will take confidence out of the fact that there was a really solid effort for four quarters."