Fremantle show faith in Leitrim star with new deal despite two injury-ravaged seasons

LEITRIM STAR ÁINE Tighe has penned a new Australian Football League Women’s [AFLW] deal with Fremantle Dockers.

After two injury-ravaged seasons at the Perth outfit, it’s a massive show of faith in Tighe, who will look to finally make her AFLW debut in the upcoming season. 

The Kiltubrid forward has endured a torrid run of serious injuries over the past few years, back-to-back knee setbacks sustained in pre-season ruling her out of the 2020 and 2021 seasons respectively.

Tighe has now signed on for another campaign alongside Maggie MacLachlan and Ann McMahon, the latter also dealing with serious injuries through her two seasons at the club.

“Ann and Aine are very similar stories in that they have both had significant yet different injuries and haven’t been able to play over their two years at the Club,” head coach Trent Cooper said.

“Both of them have been absolutely exemplary with their work ethic and their abilities to overcome those injuries. We are hoping to see them both out on the park in season six of the AFLW.”

“Aine is recovering really well from her knee problems and we’re hoping to see her out on the track ready to go for night one of pre-season,” he added, with those collective preparations commencing in September.

It’s been a cruel run of injuries for Tighe, whose most recent setback was a significant medial meniscal tear in her left knee sustained in January, leaving her “unlikely” to play in the 2021 season. She didn’t feature for the second year in-a-row, having ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament [ACL] on the same knee in Freo’s final pre-season fixture in January 2020.

“Resilient and dedicated” as she’s been described by her club so many times, she has stayed in Australia to rehabilitate throughout, having long been tipped to star in the AFLW and lead her side’s ruck division.

Tighe at the CrossCoders trial.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Tighe’s torrid injury luck has been constant since 2018, when she tore her ACL for the first time. She underwent surgery that June and had made a full recovery by the following May, where she impressed at a CrossCoders training camp and signed for Fremantle alongside Louth’s Kate Flood.

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“We have a great bunch of girls here, so fingers crossed I can keep building ahead of a big season,” Tighe, a massive player for Leitrim through the years, said after signing her new deal.

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“The off-season is where the hard work gets put in. I’ll keep getting the work done to give myself the best chance to be on the track.”

One of 14 Irish players who were on the books of AFLW clubs for the 2021 season, the majority have re-committed for 2021/22, which is due to kick off earlier this year, in December.

Irish AFLW players officially re-signed for 2021/22

  • Cora Staunton (GWS Giants / Mayo)
  • Brid Stack (GWS Giants / Cork)
  • Sarah Rowe (Collingwood / Mayo)
  • Aishling Sheridan (Collingwood / Cavan)
  • Lauren Magee (Melbourne FC / Dublin)
  • Sinéad Goldrick (Melbourne FC / Dublin)
  • Áine Tighe (Fremantle / Leitrim)
  • Aileen Gilroy (North Melbourne / Mayo)
  • Ailish Considine (Adelaide Crows / Clare)
  • Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions / Tipperary)

An official announcement is yet to come from West Coast Eagles, but The42 understands its Irish trio will go again.

  • Aisling McCarthy (West Coast Eagles / Tipperary)
  • Niamh Kelly (West Coast Eagles / Mayo)
  • Grace Kelly (West Coast Eagles / Mayo).

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