From Oz to the hills – Crazy week as Donegal’s new AFLW star returns to inspire club

WHAT A WHIRLWIND few days Donegal star forward Yvonne Bonner has had.

Yvonne Bonner.

Last Thursday the 31-year-old signed a professional deal for Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants, meaning she’ll be a teammate of Cora Staunton’s in the AFLW next year.

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Bonner had originally travelled to Melbourne with 10 other Irish athletes to the week-long CrossCoders trial camp. And she caught the eye of the Sydney outfit, penning a rookie contract for the 2019 season. 

While Down Under, she missed out on a few things at home.

The Tir Chonaill attacking ace was nominated for a second All-Star award, pitted against Dublin’s Niamh McEvoy and Cork’s Doireann O’Sullivan for the full-forward position.

In her absence, her club, Glenfin, made it back-to-back Donegal SFC titles after a thrilling 4-7 to 3-7 win over Moville.

And they were back out in provincial action a week later, this time with their now-professional athlete to boost their hopes while they were without another Donegal star, Karen Guthrie, their injured captain.

Source: Glenfin GAA Facebook.

Bonner inspired as per, finishing with a tally of 2-4 — 2-2 of that coming from play — as she put on a fine display and helped her side into the Ulster semi-final.

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The scoreline against four in-a-row Cavan champions Lurgan was 5-12 to 0-11 and Glenfin now face Down’s Bredagh in the last four. 

While there was plenty to discuss after the victory, the main focus was on 31-year-old Bonner’s time in Australia and the deal she struck whilst there.

“It was just a roller coaster of a week out there,” she told Donegal Daily at Pairc Taobhoige, Glenfin as the full-time whistle sounded. ”I was delighted to even get picked to go over to the camp. It was a great experience.

“But yeah, it was surreal then when I was meeting the likes of (Giants’ coach) Al McConnell after seeing the (Cora Staunton) documentary, watching it and watching the Giants set-up. Little did I think I’d be sitting there the week after and signing a pro contract. It was just kind of surreal really. You just go with the flow, and I’m delighted now to give it a shot.

“The age of me as well, to be going out there! Little did I think at this age (this would happen). Where I should be finishing, I’m starting more stuff. We’ll give it a shot. It’s not a long season either so I get to come back and hopefully slip back into the Donegal team. If I keep playing that long, until March, I might as well push it out another wee bit.”

In action for Donegal.

Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

She noted that her new Aussie Rules club are fully supportive of her commitments back home with Glenfin, just as they were with Cora Staunton and Carnacon’s All-Ireland run last year. 

Once those commitments finish up, she’ll be Sydney-bound for pre-season. Something she’s well and truly relishing.

“It’ll be a big challenge,” she concluded. “I’m excited now to get stuck in and learn a new game.

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