McGartland goal to deliver AFL Sydney flag for Wollongong Saints

Grand plan: The Wollongong Saints, including Rylee McGartland (front), are in the AFL Sydney Women's grand final. Picture: Adam McLean
Grand plan: The Wollongong Saints, including Rylee McGartland (front), are in the AFL Sydney Women's grand final. Picture: Adam McLean

Five trophies in one year.

A lot of players spend their careers chasing a taste of a premiership and here’s the AFL Sydney division one leading goalkicker, Rylee McGartland, with a chance to hold more silverware than a season of Antiques Roadshow.

In her first year with the Wollongong Saints, the 19-year-old is on the verge of glory in Sunday’s grand final at Blacktown International Sports Park.

A cross-code star, McGartland has already won the State Cup, league title and premiership with Albion Park in the Football South Coast women’s competition. 

And she could yet add the champion of champions trophy to the collection later this month.

But for now, the round ball is back in the kit bag, replaced by a Sherrin, which she has put through the big sticks 61 times to be the league’s most dangerous attacking weapon.

“It’s pretty crazy, I didn’t even know what position I’d be playing at the start of the season,” she said.

“I’ve loved it, I can’t thank the Saints girls enough, obviously I don’t score goals unless I get the ball.”

The Saints have slipped up just once this season, a 28-point loss to the Sunday’s opponents Western Magic in August, a game which McGartland missed.

She kicked four to add to her impressive tally in the major semi-final against Manly, as the Saints eased into the decider with a 31-point victory.

For Albion Park, McGartland scored in a 3-nil grand final victory last weekend, maintaining their unblemished run throughout the campaign.

The Saints’ more experienced campaigners carry a big motivation heading into the grand final, having lost to UTS Shamrocks in an extra-time thriller last year.

In a nail-biting finish to the season, scores were level at full time, before UTS Shamrocks kicked 2.3 in the two five-minute extra periods to seal victory.

The Shamrocks won 5.5 (35) to 3.2 (20), but only after the Saints led by two points at three-quarter time.

“You can see all the girls are really focused for this week,” she said.

“No doubt last year was disappointing for them, so they’ll do everything they can to make sure we can win on Sunday.”

With new pathways into AFL Women’s competition, as well as state soccer leagues, McGartland admitted she was open to the possibility of playing at a higher level. Saints talent Kate Stanton and Maddy Collier, who won the AFL Sydney premier division flag last Sunday with University of NSW-Eastern Sydney, have already played for GWS Giants in the newly-formed elite competition.

“I’ll just see where it goes,” she said. “It’s been great to have some success this year, I’m just enjoying being part of it, you never know what might happen in the future.”

  • AFL SYDNEY

Women’s Division One

Grand final

Sunday

WOLLONGONG SAINTS v WESTERN MAGIC

Blacktown International Sports Park (2.30pm)