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From Tipperary to a grand final, Niamh Martin’s AFLW gamble is starting to pay dividends

Niamh Martin ruefully jokes she has her AFLW grand final look all sorted.

Key points:

North’s Niamh Martin and Brisbane’s Orla O’Dwyer played in Tipperary’s All-Ireland intermediate final four years ago
The pair will face off this weekend, as North Melbourne play its first AFLW grand final since joining the league in 2019
The game kicks off at 2:30pm on Sunday at Princes Park in Melbourne, with few tickets to the game remaining

The North Melbourne player’s parents flew out from her native Ireland for last Sunday’s preliminary final against Adelaide and were shocked when their daughter had a heavy collision only a few metres from them early in the game.

Martin was cleared to return to the field, but only minutes later was forced off again following a nasty knock to her left eye.

She did not need a concussion test and will play against the Brisbane Lions in Sunday’s grand final at Princes Park in Melbourne, referring to her fat lip and bruised eye socket as “lipstick, eye shadow”.

“I look tough now for Sunday,” Martin said.

Martin has a sore jaw and several bruises after North’s epic one-point preliminary final win over the Crows, but otherwise is “all grand”.

“I definitely struggled on Sunday night trying to eat my dinner, but luckily I woke up feeling better than I thought I would,” she said.

Parents Mike and Ann were going to fly back after the game, but have extended their stay to take in the grand final.

By the final siren they had recovered from the early shock of being sure their daughter had a broken jaw.

“They’re typical Irish, they gave the tough love — ‘Ah, you’re grand’,” Martin said with a laugh.

The 23-year-old laughs a lot and cannot believe her good fortune.

She is part of the influx of Irish players that have been a highlight of this AFLW season.

“I’m delighted I made the move,” she said.

“It was a hard transition — a few days when you’d be questioning whether this is for me. ‘Did I make the right decision?’.

“To end up in a grand final, it definitely was the right decision. Thank God I took it.

“It’s an opportunity you can’t let slide.”

One of her opponents in Sunday’s showpiece, Brisbane star Orla O’Dwyer, was a teammate of Martin’s when they helped Tipperary win an All-Ireland intermediate final in Gaelic football four years ago.

West Coast player Aisling McCarthy is another Tipperary alumna who has inspired Martin.

Rapt about the Tipperary representation in Sunday’s grand final, Martin has great respect for O’Dwyer.

“I don’t like playing against her, but it’s exciting to be in a position to play against her,” Martin said.

“And she’s been nothing but encouraging since I came onto the Tipperary team.

“Whatever happens, at least the cup is going to Tipperary.”

The AFLW announced on Friday morning it was releasing a small number of additional tickets to the game, after tickets were sold out within three hours of going on sale on Monday.

The AFLW Grand Final kicks-off at 2.30pm in Melbourne and 1.30pm in Brisbane. Join Dean Bilton at abc.net.au/sport for live coverage of the match.

AAP/ABC

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Source: AFL NEWS ABC

    

Author: Russell White