17/04/2024

Eilish Sheerin is surrounded by teammates after kicking her first AFLW goal. (Photo: AFL)

Richmond’s Eilish Sheerin has had the dream start to her AFLW career. She’s been a standout defender in a strong Richmond team that is finals bound.

Going through her first season at 30, you’d be forgiven for mistaking her as a player brimming with experience. She admits it’s only her third season playing Aussie rules though, still learning game-to-game.

Out on the field though, she doesn’t show it. She’s ranked third in the competition for metres gained, and outright first for intercept possessions.

The New South Welshwoman has been nothing short of a revelation since arriving at Punt Road. This has been particularly noticeable in a defence still without backline general Harriet Cordner, and season six All-Australian squad of 40 member Rebecca Miller.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum, Sheerin detailed her attitude in approaching her debut season head on.

“This is only my third year playing, so [I’ve approached the season] with a really open mindset,” the defender said.

“I’m just huge on doing what I need to do to improve. Being guided by those experienced players and experienced coaches around me, where they see me needing to focus and improve my game is a huge part of that.

“But then also, just really enjoying the experience. You only get to debut or have your first season once, so really just taking the time to step back and soak it all in and enjoy those moments.

“You never know when it can be taken away from you. So I really appreciate it.”

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Her brilliant form has helped the Tigers in their hunt for their first AFLW finals series, which they are now firmly in line for.

With two rounds to go, they sit two games and 54 per cent clear of the ninth-placed Gold Coast Suns – it would take a near disaster to miss from here.

While the club is focused firmly on what it must do in the final two games against GWS and North Melbourne to finish as strongly as possible, the success of the season had made Sheerin’s introduction to the AFLW that much more enjoyable.

“It’s always nice to be in the hunt at this stage of the season,” she said.

“We just have to approach it each game at the time. You try not to focus on outcomes, you trust the method. We learn from the previous week, we build into the next week.

“A big part of our values is growth mindset – how can we improve week on week? If we do that, good things will come.

“Definitely excited about finals and the prospect of being there, but we can’t get too ahead of ourselves.”

Just like last season, Richmond has been one of the most entertaining teams to watch. It has been responsible for some of the closest games each round.

While this started out with two losses to Geelong and Adelaide, it has since turned that around to six wins on the trot, with only two being over a three-goal margin.

This included a stunning victory over the Lions in a scrap at Punt Road. With two weeks to go, the Tigers are still the only team to beat the ladder leaders in season seven.

It has instilled plenty of belief within the group that they can stand up when the going gets tough come finals time.

“Every game we’ve played has a tight game. We’ve definitely learned so much from that,” Sheerin explained.

“A big thing would be composure. [Another] big thing is around belief as well, and also taking your opportunities and recognising when to go fast, and when to play slow.

“I think that kind of knowledge of ourselves and maturity is really important.”

While a big win over Hawthorn and a last quarter breakthrough against Essendon started the streak, one game in particular stood out for Sheerin.

“I think a big one for us was in the game against the Suns,” she said.

“We came from behind and used our workrate and rolled over the top of them. I thought that was a significant growth point for our team.

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“Each win and each loss you’re going to learn a little bit. That’s going to build and help us as players.

“We’re doing really well in terms of that, taking those learnings on and making sure they’re helping us deliver in close games.”

The Tigers take on the Giants in Round 9 in Mildura, on Sunday, October 23.

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