A year on from making the move to the Women's Australian Football League (AFLW), Cork great Bríd Stack is finally set to make her debut for Greater Western Sydney Giants on Sunday.
Last January, the 11-time All-Ireland winner suffered a career-threatening neck injury during a practice match against the Adelaide Crows.
Scans showed a stable fracture of the C7 vertebrae but no surgery would be required. However, the injury ruled her out of the Giants' entire 2021 campaign when she had been due to line out alongside team-mates including Cora Staunton.
But having made a full recovery and been included on the Giants' re-signing list for this coming season, Stack has returned to Australia for the 2022 campaign and the club's coach Alan McConnell has confirmed that she is in line to make her league debut against the Gold Coast Suns this Sunday.
She told GIANTS TV: "I'm probably just going to start crying like I’ve been crying since Alan gave me the nod. I'm just so, 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."
Leitrim's Áine Tighe is another Irish player who is set for a long-awaited AFLW debut this weekend after knee injuries prevented her from featuring for Fremantle in the past two seasons.
The 2011 Intermediate Player's Player of the Year is due to play against West Coast in a derby fixture on Saturday.
Speaking ahead of this weekend's season opener, she said: "We've had our ups and downs over the last couple of years but I’ve learnt a huge amount about the game as well over the past three years, which hopefully will hold me in good stead when we do get out on the field."
Not a dry eye in the room!— GWS GIANTS (@GWSGIANTS) January 7, 2022
The moment our three debutants were told they'd be playing this weekend 🧡 pic.twitter.com/c56e4WvybV
Stack and Tighe are among a number of Irish players who are set to feature in this season's AFLW, with Adelaide Crows' Ailish Considine among those returning for another season.
AFLW 2022 IRISH PLAYERS
Ailish Considine (Clare)
Orla O'Dwyer (Tipperary)
Sarah Rowe (Mayo)
Aishling Sheridan (Cavan)
Áine Tighe (Leitrim)
Rachel Kearns (Mayo)
Greater Western Sydney Giants
Bríd Stack (Cork)
Cora Staunton (Mayo)
Sinéad Goldrick (Dublin)
Lauren Magee (Dublin)
Aileen Gilroy (Mayo)
Grace Kelly (Mayo)
Niamh Kelly (Mayo)
Aisling McCarthy (Tipperary)