ALL-Ireland-winning Dublin pair Niamh McEvoy and Sineán Goldrick have decided to return home from Australia due to the evolving COVID-19 crisis.
The duo signed for AFLW side Melbourne Demons in October and have made an immediate impression.
They were expected to feature in the forthcoming finals series but the uncertainty about the possibility of air travel in the coming weeks has forced them to cut short their first season in Oz.
"With so much uncertainty in the world at the moment, we think what’s best for Niamh and Sinead is to be back home in Ireland with their families," AFLW Football Manager Daniel McPherson told Melbourne Media.
"Whilst we would obviously love for both of them to be lining up for us against GWS in our first ever AFLW final this Saturday, we took the view that getting them home safely was far more important at this point in time."
The official Demons website states that “while unforeseen circumstances mean their time in Melbourne will end prematurely, the red and blue are hopeful they will return in 2021.”
It had been expected that both McEvoy and Goldrick – key members of Mick Bohan’s three-in-a-row All-Ireland-winning team – would return at the end of the AFLW season to play with Dublin in this year’s championship.
"They are both terrific competitors who have worked incredibly hard on their AFL craft," McPherson said.
"We will miss having them with us as we head into our first AFL Women’s Finals Series.
"We know the girls are disappointed that it has ended like this for now, but we look forward to hopefully seeing them back next season."
They may not be the only Irish players to come home.
According to Womens.afl, all Irish players scheduled to play in the upcoming AFLW finals series have been briefed about whether they should return to Ireland.
In total, there 18 Irish players on the books of AFLW clubs.
The last two rounds of the competition were played behind-closed doors while the men’s AFL season commenced today under a cloud of uncertainty, with Richmond and Carlton playing in front of an empty MCG Arena.