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Vikki Wall gets Royal seal of approval from Melbourne

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AIG ambassador and Meath footballer Vikki Wall in attendance at the launch of AIG’s new "For Times Like These" campaign at AIG Ireland’s offices in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

AIG ambassador and Meath footballer Vikki Wall in attendance at the launch of AIG’s new "For Times Like These" campaign at AIG Ireland’s offices in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

AIG ambassador and Meath footballer Vikki Wall in attendance at the launch of AIG’s new "For Times Like These" campaign at AIG Ireland’s offices in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Meath football superstar Vikki Wall has confirmed that her new Australian Rules club have given her licence to play for the defending All-Ireland champions until the end of their title defence this summer.

The AFLW has just expanded to 18 teams, considerably improved salaries and shifted its competition calendar to an August start, compared to its previous spring season.

That has already forced some high-profile Irish players to make a choice between playing football or AFLW this summer. Wall’s status as the LGFA’s reigning Player of the Year has allowed her negotiate special terms in her rookie season with North Melbourne.

“I don’t have any flights or anything like that booked,” she revealed. “North Melbourne have been very good to me, I have been given the grace to focus on Meath and maybe we have been fortunate that the success with Meath has allowed me to do that.

“Hopefully I have a lot of years left with me playing for Meath. It is something that is a huge part of my life and definitely not something that I’m finished with yet.”

Dublin’s Sinéad Goldrick and Lauren Magee are expected to return to Australia once their inter-county commitments are finished this summer. But Mayo have lost Sarah Rowe, the Kelly sisters, and Aileen Gilroy, who have all opted for AFLW ahead of GAA, as has Cork All-Star Erika O’Shea.

O’Shea’s first AFLW contract is with the same club as Wall, and the young Cork defender has already departed for Down Under.

But several Aussie clubs were chasing Wall and being in such demand clearly armed her with considerable negotiating power.

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Asked how she might juggle two such closely aligned seasons in future she said: “I have no idea, to be honest. You see (Dublin’s) Sinéad Goldrick and (Mayo’s) Rachel Kearns are back playing with their counties and then some others aren’t, so I suppose it’s just a conversation we’ll have going forward.”

Wall has already picked up sponsorship deals at home, but she said the chance to try a new sport and a semi-professional lifestyle in Australia – where she will work part-time (in social media) for her club – were a far bigger draw than money.

“I’m going to challenge myself and push myself outside of my comfort zone. I’m not under any illusions that it’s going to be a difficult transfer but I think that’s the main draw of it.”

First comes a full championship with Meath, who face Armagh in one of the plum ties of the TG4 Championship this weekend.

“Fingers crossed, I will be playing for Meath for a number of years but the fact is we want to be in a place where there are new girls coming in every year, challenging the people that are there already. Thankfully, that is happening at the moment.”


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