There were emotional scenes in Sydney today as Cork legend Bríd Stack was selected to finally make her Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) debut this weekend, a year after suffering a career-threatening neck injury in a pre-season game.
he Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants player will line out against the Gold Coast Suns at the Great Barrier Reef Arena in Queensland after Head Coach Alan McConnell selected Stack as one of three debutants alongside Ally Morphett and Ally Dallaway, 51 weeks after her 2021 season was ended before it began.
Stack, who won 11 All-Ireland Ladies Football titles with her native county, was believed to have come within millimetres of paralysis after a collision with Adelaide's Ebony Marinoff resulted in a fractured vertebra. The Adelaide player was initially punished with a three-game ban, the longest in AFLW history, for careless conduct, high contact and severe impact but this was later overturned on appeal.
However, the injury meant that Stack missed all of her rookie season, making the moment when she was told she’d be involved this weekend all the sweeter as the congratulations from teammates reduced the player to tears of joy.
“I’m probably just going to start crying like I’ve been crying since Alan gave me the nod,” Stack told GIANTS TV afterwards.
“I’m just so excited, it’s probably a massive relief. There were obviously a lot of logistics to work out at home first before I could commit to this season but there’s definitely been a burning desire in me and I definitely want to give it a go.
"I want to repay this team for the love and support they showed my family last year and hopefully I can do that on the playing field.”
Stack’s fellow Irishwomen Cora Staunton is also expected to line out for the Giants while Aine Tighe and Rachel Kearns will join Stack in making their AFLW debuts this weekend for Freemantle and Geelong against West Coast Eagles and North Melbourne respectively.