Orla O'Dwyer
Orla O'Dwyer

Staker: ‘Irish Flyer’ the new Doormat

BEING a 21-year-old from Ireland, Orla O'Dwyer would have no idea who the "Flying Doormat" was.

Carlton halfback flanker Bruce Doull was a legendary player for the Blues in the 1970s and 1980s - winning four flags, four Carlton best-and-fairests, a Norm Smith Medal in 1981 and being selected in the Carlton and AFL Teams of the Century.

He also had one of the best nicknames in footy history - the Flying Doormat.

And with a headband and hair flying everywhere as she fiercely competed in contest after contest, that is precisely who I thought of when I saw Orla "The Irish Flyer" O'Dwyer make her AFLW debut with Brisbane last Saturday.

Orla has never played a game of AFLW before nor was a Sherrin football ever spotted in her house or school. It was completely non-existent. Instead she was playing Gaelic football and hurling - sports where only the strong survive.

Orla ended up in Brisbane after it was decided that her elite running ability and skill level could adapt to our game.

Orla O'Dwyer (centre) celebrates kicking a goal against Adelaide at Hickey Park on Saturday.
Orla O'Dwyer (centre) celebrates kicking a goal against Adelaide at Hickey Park on Saturday.

Apart from learning a brand new sport and being without close friends and family, there was the Brisbane's summer weather to deal with. The heat and humidity is a world away from soggy fields and constant drizzle back at home.

It would have been easy for her to throw in the towel but she earned the respect of everyone at the Lions with her endurance, toughness and never-say-die attitude.

Bruce Doull (aka Flying Doormat) during his legendary VFL/AFL career.
Bruce Doull (aka Flying Doormat) during his legendary VFL/AFL career.

While all the girls were having ice baths following our win over Adelaide in Round 1 at Hickey Park, we played the Irish national anthem in honour of our international debutant.

All the girls screaming the chorus, "Ireland, Ireland together standing tall" is something our girls, Orla and the Lions AFLW coaching staff will never forget.