Donegal captain and Player of the Year Niamh McLaughlin signs for Aussie Rules club Gold Coast Suns

Donegal's Niamh McLaughlin

Sean McGoldrick

Footballer of the Year Niamh McLaughlin will play for Aussie Rules club Gold Coast Suns this season.

The club confirmed today they had signed the Donegal captain for the 2023 AFLW season. McLaughlin was named in November as the women’s GAA Player of the Year and also won her first All-Star.

Now 29, she is a multi-talented footballer. She played for the Republic of Ireland soccer team at Under-17 and Under-19 level and also had spells with Newcastle and Sunderland.

“I’m thrilled to have been given this opportunity and the chance to push myself into something new,” McLaughlin told the Gold Coast Suns website.

“The opportunities have become more available to girls to make the transition from Gaelic football at the AFLW. The skills are quite transferrable and it’s a new challenge with a new lifestyle for me, which is exciting.

McLaughlin will be the second Irish player on the club’s books as Ciara Fitzpatrick linked up with them last week.

This is the second year in a row that the reigning women’s GAA Footballer of the Year has opted to play in Australia. Last year, Meath’s Vikki Wall played with North Melbourne.

Yesterday was the deadline for signing players before a supplementary draft next month. It is expected that 22 Irish females will feature in the 2023 AFLW.