Orla O'Dwyer during the round five AFLW match between Hawthorn and Brisbane at Kinetic Stadium, October 01, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

IT'S almost fitting that Brisbane's flying Irish winger Orla O'Dwyer will play her milestone 50th game on Saturday against Adelaide.

It was the Crows in round one, 2020, that O'Dwyer made her AFLW debut against, and the same opponent she became a premiership player against the following year.

Quickly establishing herself as one of the best players in her position in the competition, the 25-year-old said it was hard to believe how far she’s come in such a short period of time.

"It's surreal considering I only came out a couple of years ago, and to have 50 games under my belt is crazy," O'Dwyer said on Wednesday.

"When I first came out here, I didn't really know what the sport was, any of the rules, how to kick the ball, the game-play sense.


"To be considered a 50-gamer now is huge, and I'm so excited for it."

O'Dwyer didn't take long to settle in, kicking a goal with her first touch on debut, marking the ball about 25m from goal and immediately swinging on to her trusted left boot to finish.

That game at Brisbane’s Hickey Park was not only pivotal for her, but the Lions in general, as their rebuilding team also featured first-up appearances for current cornerstones Belle Dawes, Lily Postlethwaite, Cathy Svarc and Dakota Davidson.

Since then the hard-running winger has earned All-Australian selection – the first Irishwoman to do so – and become an integral part of Craig Starcevich's team.

With retired Giant Cora Staunton and Collingwood’s Sarah Rowe, at the weekend, already having reached 50 games, O'Dwyer said the interest in Australian rules football in Ireland was surging.

"We're taking over," she laughed.

Orla O’Dwyer of the Lions celebrates after the AFLW Grand Final match between Adelaide and Brisbane at Adelaide Oval on April 17, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

"I think a lot of younger girls see that as a path, coming over here, especially playing Gaelic football and camogie, which have some translatable skills.

"A few girls might message me to see what it's about.

"Back home it's an amateur sport, but you represent your county and you have great pride in that and to leave that behind can be very hard.

"It depends where girls are at in their lives.

"If they want to take that risk to come to Australia to play and get paid here, or if they want to continue their life at home and become a household name for their county, which is a huge achievement as well.

"There's definitely that divide between what you want and where you can go.

"It's exceptional now the amount of opportunities for women's sport and it's great to be part of it."

Although O'Dwyer says she loves her annual trips to Ireland over Christmas, for the immediate future, Australia and the AFLW is home.

And that continues at Brighton Homes Arena at the weekend, where the Lions are trying to upend the unbeaten Crows.

"It's amazing how far I've come and hopefully we can get a win at the weekend for 50 games. It’d be nice."