Aishling Moloney marks during the elimination final between Geelong and Essendon at GMHBA Stadium on November 12, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

It's Aishling Moloney time.  

The Irishwoman was superb in Geelong's 18-point elimination final win, booting two goals and amassing 18 touches to propel the Cats into a showdown semi-final against Melbourne next week. 

She ruled the airways in Geelong's forward half, clunking eight marks as the most dangerous forward on the ground. 

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"It was the first time it felt like she played the game naturally on instinct, you could see that she was running and launching for the ball," Cats coach Dan Lowther said. 

"Off a limited pre-season, next to no pre-season to be fair, and then 10 weeks of practicing and playing, the penny is beginning to drop. 

"For her to play off instinct, her natural flair was on show and it's exciting to watch. 

"She gets up and back, she launches, buys time and she's physical, I'm just happy for her and the way she's progressing. 

"What we saw today was the hope from the start, that's how she plays back home in Gaelic."


Defender Claudia Gunjaca says Moloney is an "awesome teammate" who has slotted in seamlessly at the club. 

"To have a limited pre-season and to come out and do the things that she does is incredible," she said.

Geelong's forward line, featuring Moloney, Chloe Scheer and Jacqui Parry is firing on all cylinders and Moloney says that there is "definitely a growing connection" in the forward half.  

"It's something that we've been working on the whole year," Moloney said. 

The 25-year-old only arrived in Australia in late July, which makes her achievements in her short AFLW career so far even more outstanding. 

"It's been very smooth; Geelong has made me feel like home," she said.

She concedes that she "didn't really have time to think" too much about learning a new sport, but has especially loved playing in front of the big crowds.  

"We don't play in front of big crowds like this, maybe max 600-700 people," Moloney said. 

"It’s pretty cool, every time we play here [at GMHBA Stadium], we seem to garner a crowd."


Moloney stepped up in the absence of gun forward Chloe Scheer, who went down with a shoulder injury in the first term, and Lowther conceded it "doesn’t look great for her" and said she is "highly doubtful" for next week's semi-final. 

Lowther was stoked for the playing group post-match and was proud of how the side has improved on last year's campaign. 

"I'm proud of the group for making a successive finals series," he said. "To go so close last year and to feel the awkwardness and pain of not winning and then to have the result today was outstanding."


Bombers coach Natalie Wood said that the Cats "really flexed their muscle" early in the contest and their pressure and hunger around the ball was superb. 

"We just didn't have the answers for the number of players that Geelong had who really stood up today," Wood said. 

"They were sweating on everything we were doing."

Wood said the club was proud of what they had achieved in just their second season in the AFLW competition. 

"We are still building; we are really proud of where we got to today even though we hoped to put up a better contest than what we did," she said. 

"The phrase we just used in [the changerooms] was proud and hungry. 

"We set out with a mission to play finals, which every team does, but we want to be in a position to win finals and today we didn't put ourselves in that position.

"We can sit back and acknowledge the growth that we've had, but we're really competitive and focussed, we want to still be playing over the next couple of weeks.

"One of the things that's been quite inspiring for me as a coach is that last year when we got to round 10 we were cooked, we couldn't have imagined being able to play finals because of the energy levels and the levels of fatigue, whereas this season, yes there's some exhaustion but it does feel like we are growing with our ability to keep going for more weeks which is a really pleasing sign for the growth of the group."


The Cats wore black armbands to honour captain Meg McDonald's father, who passed away suddenly during the week.  

"We tried to be a place of stability for her, so that she can come in and get around the teammates and staff and do her normal thing," Lowther said. 

The Cats will face Melbourne in a semi-final next weekend with the winner to advance to a preliminary final against Brisbane.