Greetings from a soggy Sydney where it has been raining non-stop for days. The news may have been missed at home, understandably given the horrific scenes in Ukraine, but there was a flood crisis on Australia’s east coast this week.
We were fortunate to avoid major problems in Sydney’s western suburbs, but thousands others in Queensland and New South Wales weren’t so lucky after parts of Australia were hit within 24 hours of a month’s rain.
I really couldn’t see anything the other day towards the end of practice, it was raining so hard, although the poor visibility may have at least given my teammates a break from my serial gloom.
I’ve never had a great poker face and I’m really frustrated since our season-defining loss to Carlton last Sunday dashed any small hopes we had of reaching the finals.
It might seem trivial in the broader sense of what’s going on in the world, but losing is something I’m not good at digesting.
I’ve learned to deal with defeat better over the years, but part of me – I turned 40 last December – can’t ignore the ticking of the clock either. I feel like I’m playing well, but I know it can’t go on like this forever.
It’s been a fun couple of weeks. We played badly against St Kilda. We were fortunate to get a win on death which kept our hopes of the final alive and our three remaining games were all against teams in mid-table and below. But we just couldn’t find a performance against Carlton when we really needed it; It was so frustrating that our hopes of making the finals were dashed.
I managed to score five goals in five days in those two games and was subsequently told that I made it into Round 8 of AFLW Team of the Week, but it’s been a long time since I’ve complained about such individual have enjoyed awards. I would have preferred to kick five wides in five days if that meant the GWS Giants made the top six.
It’s been a difficult season that never really got off the ground for us, one marred by Covid outbreaks and injuries to key players. For example, we don’t have the strength at depth that other clubs in the AFL stronghold of Victoria can draw on.
This year’s star recruit Chloe Dalton – a gold medalist for Australia in rugby sevens at the 2016 Olympics – was only fit for two and a half games after an unlucky injury streak. We also had nine new girls in the squad this year and many of them probably need another year or two to feel comfortable at this level.
It can sometimes be difficult to adjust to the cultural differences here. Bríd Stack and I, both coming from successful district teams, found it challenging not to be part of an environment used to winning.
That’s something we’ve tried to push here to illustrate the level of competitiveness you need to be successful. We need to build mental resilience in the group, encourage accountability and normalize extras in training.
Stackie knows that at 35, time is against them too, so we want to make sure the younger cohort maximizes their potential as quickly as possible for the good of the group. It annoys me a bit that we haven’t shown how good we can be this season; I know we have the players to be in the top six.
Our finals goal may be gone, but there is still work to be done. Girls compete for their AFLW futures over the next two weekends of regular season games — either with the Giants or elsewhere. With four new teams coming into the competition next season, there will be a personnel reshuffle across the board, and I hope our best players stay with the Giants for at least another year.
Having spoken to some of them over the past few weeks I’m optimistic we won’t lose too many of our key players to the Sydney Swans and beyond.
Whether I’ll be there for a sixth season is another question entirely. I feel good about my game and have been fortunate to have only minor hamstring and groin injuries this season. The only training sessions I missed were when I was in isolation with Covid-19.
I’m never in the right position to make serious decisions about my future when I have to focus on games. Our final game of the season is on that day in Geelong next week so I’ll take some time after that to leave Sydney West and assess where I stand.
I’m never the easiest person when it comes to sorting through new contracts; It’s not that I enjoy keeping people guessing, I just prefer to make time for important life decisions.
Signing up for another season in Australia is a big deal, especially for a longer season. There’s talk of our next pre-season starting in August, ahead of Round 1 in November, so I might just stay home for four months – starting in April as I’m working with RTÉ for the football championship.
The Giants have to decide if they want me back too, it’s not as easy as saying I’d like to stay. I will be speaking to our head coach, Al McConnell, and the Stacks before making a decision on this.
Stackie, her husband Cárthach and their son Ógie – who has just started attending the Little Giants crèche – will be settled here but also have to weigh their options.
In the meantime, the show continues for us tomorrow (from 6.10am Irish time) at home against the Richmond Tigers. Every game counts here, even if the goals for the season are out of reach. It’s a business – jobs and economic goals are still at stake.
I’ve scored 11 goals in eight games so far – a career high – which is about the ratio I was aiming for earlier in the season, so I’m hoping to add a few more over the next eight days as part of that two improved team performances that we can build on for next season.
I’ve been told I play my best footie when I’m mad, so something positive can still come out of my frustration. And with a bit of luck it will even stop raining.
⬤ Cora Staunton is one of 14 Irish women in the AFLW and the Greater Western Sydney Giants star – along with Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions) and Sarah Rowe (Collingwood) – will cover the Irish Independent throughout the campaign
https://www.independent.ie/sport/womens-sport/ive-been-told-i-play-my-best-footie-when-ped-off-so-something-positive-may-yet-come-from-my-frustrations-41409466.html I’ve been told I play my best footie when I’m mad, so something positive can still come out of my frustration