Irish talent from the Hill debuts in SANFLW

Meg Ryan Sends the ball into attack. PICTURE: PETER ARGENT
By Peter Argent

Currently living with her Northern Zone teammates, Hannah Muscat and Rebecca Deer, who won the SA Country Championship with a predominately Broken Hill based team last year, gregarious Irish girl Meg Ryan recently made her SANFL Women’s League debut.

In round three of the ’22 SANFLW season, Ryan made her inaugural league appearance in Roosters colours, against Sturt, on Saturday, February 19 at Thebarton Oval in an evening game.

Last Saturday, in the late afternoon game against Central District, Ryan enjoyed her victory on the league stage in North Adelaide’s emphatic seven-goal victory.

Now 26, the 180cm athlete has been in Australia for two and a half years, after growing up in the small town of Roscrea in County Tipperary, in the heart of the Irish midlands.

“Coming to Australia was a pretty impulsive thing. After a phone call from my friend Tess Ryan, we were on a plane,” Ryan explained.

“Broken Hill quickly became a second home for us and the people we’ve met have been so special.

“Jake Peters from South Broken Hill asked Tess and me if we’d like to come out and train with the girls, and it (football) all started from there.

“I’ve always been involved in some type of sport.

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“My dad, Michael was a talented soccer player, before his work became a priority and Mum, Teresa, was an Irish Dancer.

“Auntie Rosie was an All-Ireland Hurling Champion, and I grew up with a stick in my hand.

“My brothers played sport as well, with younger brother Daniel being talented at the Gaelic game and Hurling.

“Dad always had an excellent work ethic, which he taught us.”

The COVID affected 2021 season in the Silver City was Ryan’s initial foray into the Australian Rules code.

COVID also delayed the start of Ryan’s career at North Adelaide, as she was a “close contact” of a positive player in the week before the season.

She then tested positive and needed 10 days in isolation.

Ryan’s first game for North proved to be a low-scoring thriller, with the Roosters going down by just three points. The final scores with Sturt kicking the game’s only goal and winning 1.4 (10) to seven points.

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Ryan kicked North’s first score of the game and finished with a respectable nine disposals and six hit-outs.

“Gaelic footy has some similarities to Aussie Rules,” Ryan confirmed.

“It’s a different ball, so you need to strip back your kicking style and tackling is a distinct difference.

“My coaches are very honest and I want to learn, to be the best I can be.

“Playing in the ruck for the first time, there is so much to learn.”

Ryan also confirmed the family were able to see her first SANFL league game through the SANFL link.

The Roosters 6pm round three game was on a 7.30am Irish time, giving Meg’s parents a chance to see Meg play in this indigenous football game of Australia.

She also suggested if an opportunity came to play in the AFL women’s competition, Ryan said she’d grab it with both hands.

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Muscat was high among the best players in the Development League thrilling one-point victory over Central District last Saturday, in her second game and is pressing for league selection.

Deer has now played three development games and isn’t far away either.

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