Retired Cork ladies football legend Bríd Stack has described herself as "very excited" as she prepares for a sensational return to elite sport in the AFLW.
Stack will link up with long-time Mayo rival Cora Staunton and Donegal's Yvonne Bonner at Greater Western Sydney Giants, after Staunton sowed a seed in her mind and that of GWS head coach Alan McConnell.
Stack will relocate for the duration of the AFLW season with her husband Cárthach and their son Cárthach Óg, departing for Sydney in the first week of November to join her new team-mates for pre-season training.
She is following in the footsteps of another Corkonian Setanta Ó hAilpín, a member of the inaugural Giants squad when the franchise made its AFL debut in 2012.
The 34-year-old former full-back signed off on a stellar career with the Rebels in January 2019, having won 11 All-Irelands and seven All-Stars, and been named player of the year in 2016. She was player of the match in the 2007 and 2013 All-Ireland finals.
"Cora said it to me initially after I retired that it might be something to consider but I hadn't ever given it too much thought" says Stack.
"Alan McConnell made contact with me last year and I wasn’t in a position to go as I was expecting. We were talking again this year and sure we said we’d give it a go.
"It’s a wonderful opportunity, something new and very different, and a big relocation for my family but it’s something we’re looking forward to and a big adventure ahead, hopefully."
Stack maintained her fitness lining out with St Val’s in club competition and working with Colm O’Shaughnessy of Elite Fitness, and has been availing of twice-weekly kicking sessions of the oval Sherrin ball with Mike Currane of AFL Ireland Womens for the last couple of months.
"At the start it was frustrating but thankfully I’m getting into the swing of it. You’re learning a whole new set of skills but I love a bit of a challenge and I’m very excited. I’m going to go out and give my best and enjoy it.
"The opportunity to play professional football doesn’t come along too often and I know how fortunate I am to get it now, when I couldn’t have expected it at all and when circumstances such as Cárthach’s work allow us to go on the adventure as a family.
"I am a little bit older, I’m probably 10 plus years on some of the girls that are going over but I’m hoping to use my strength and experience as much as possible. I have been training hard for the last while. I’m going to give it an unmerciful crack and we’ll see how it goes."
McConnell could not hide his delight at final securing Stack’s services.
"After three years of interest on our part, it’s really exciting to have Bríd Stack finally make the decision to come to Australia and be part of our list," said McConnell.
"Bríd is a key defender with great speed, good agility, is very competitive and has a long history of having high-level success in women’s football in Ireland.
"This is a recruiting model that we’ve followed with our two other Irish girls and have had great success with Cora and Yvonne in recent years and we hope to get the same outcome with Bríd.
"What an amazing thing for our footy club, that a young woman is willing to not just move herself here to play Aussie Rules but to bring her 12-month-old son and her husband, as well, in the current Covid-19 environment.
"It’s just an amazingly courageous thing to do. We’re grateful and hopefully we can make the best of the opportunity for all involved."