THE RELATIONSHIP between Carlton and Ireland has been strong and consistent over the last two decades, with the Blues having a keen eye for talent from the Emerald Isle.

This season saw the Blues’ AFLW side secure their first two Irish players in their short history, with Erone Fitzpatrick and Dayna Finn making the move from Ireland to Australia to play a game they had little to no knowledge of.

The two both came to Carlton with elite sporting backgrounds, with former Irish national basketball representative Finn bringing her finesse and agility to the Blues, whilst Fitzpatrick’s time in Gaelic football saw her collect two Ladies Football Team of the League selections thanks to her speed and aggression.

Fitzpatrick and Finn found it easy to fit in in their new lives thanks to the support from their teammates and the high-performance culture around the Club, something that is a stark contrast to their past.

With the values that Carlton brings - the relentlessness, the excellence, things like that - we really get to feel what a professional is actually like,” Fitzpatrick said.

“I think I’ve learnt that you can really trust your teammates because you know that everyone is willing to put in the hard yards.

"We’ve definitely learnt a lot about ourselves, but Carlton has been a huge help in making us the players we are after this season”.


The two were always going to feel uncomfortable and at times lost, having to uproot their lives and move halfway around the world, but that was a challenge both Finn and Fitzpatrick were happy to tackle head-on.

Between familiarising themselves with a new way of life, a new sport and no family by their sides, it was tough for them at times, but having each other was something the two were grateful for.

“You have to feel uncomfortable to then be comfortable and I think both of us found that at times throughout the season and there were bumps and hurdles along to the way, but you learn from that,” Finn said.

“I think having each other to lean on and go to and have that familiarity of home too really helped a lot. We packed up our lives and moved to the other side of the world, so to have Dayna here was huge,” Fitzpatrick said.

It didn’t take long for the international recruits to become fully immersed in their new sport of choice and were able to find out new things about themselves as athletes during their first pre-season.


For Finn, she focused on using her athleticism to help improve her learning of the new skills she needed to become an AFLW player, which in turn helped her discover more about her body and how it adapted to the change.

Whereas for Fitzpatrick, the similar skills used in Gaelic Football had her a few steps ahead, so it was the impressive resources around the club that she used to her advantage.

Coming from a dominant basketball background, it took a different demand for me because it’s totally different in what you use to play the sport," Finn said.

“Noticing a few niggles and injuries was one of the challenges I had to cross coming from basketball. But once I adjusted it was much easier to play freely."

“You’ve got a lot of the extra personnel that can really help you and they want to see you do really well,” Fitzpatrick said.

Even with their main support systems being on the other side of the world, Fitzpatrick and Finn’s families were doing everything they could to be their number one supporters, which was definitely felt during the season.


With Fitzpatrick’s debut coming in Round 1, her parents made the last-minute trek to Australia to be there for their daughter, as well as buying up all the Erone Fitzpatrick badges they could find. 

While the Finn family had to wait for Round 5 to fly to IKON Park to see her debut, having their families at their debut games made it all the sweeter for the Irish recruits.

Over here when they weren’t here they were always up early and sending me pictures of the television in the family WhatsApp group," Fitzpatrick said.

“All of my family are so supportive so they were all just so proud of me finally reaching the potential they knew I could reach."

“My parents are my number one supporters and I wouldn’t be here without them that’s for sure, so it was so good to have them here for my debut. I was an emotional wreck knowing that they were coming,” Finn said.