Sport

Yvonne Bonner calls time on AFLW career as McLaughlin and Mackin in the running for awards

Yvonne Bonner was part of the Adelaide Crows team that made it to the preliminary finals in the AFLW this season
Yvonne Bonner was part of the Adelaide Crows team that made it to the preliminary finals in the AFLW this season Yvonne Bonner was part of the Adelaide Crows team that made it to the preliminary finals in the AFLW this season

Donegal footballer Yvonne Bonner has called time on her AFLW career, opting against another tilt at a premiership next year. 

Bonner (36) played 11 AFLW games across two seasons at the Greater Western Giants in 2019 and 2020, before the global Covid-19 pandemic and residency restrictions ruled her out of the 2021 and 2022 seasons, which she spent back home in Glenfin.

The tenacious forward booted almost a goal a game for GWS in her debut season before breaking down with a serious ankle injury after only four games in 2020.  

This year, Bonner slotted seamlessly back into AFLW for the Adelaide Crows, and proved she had plenty left in the tank at the age of 36, after booting six goals in 10 games for the minor premiers. 

Bonner memorably kicked two crucial goals, the second was a stunning strike on the stroke of the half-time siren, for the Crows in their 82-15 semi-final demolition of the Sydney Swans last month. 

The following week, however, the veteran endured preliminary final heartache when Adelaide lost to Grand Final runners-up North Melbourne by a solitary point. 

Looking ahead to the future, Bonner has decided to hang up her boots and retire alongside teammate Lisa Whiteley. 

“I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to return to Australia and play another season of AFLW,” Bonner said. 

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Bonner boots Adelaide into preliminary final but it's heartbreak for Mackin sisters as Melbourne bow out

“It was such a great experience for me and my family and we are going to miss all the management, staff and girls who made us feel so welcome.”  

Adelaide Head of Women’s Football Phil Harper paid tribute to both players for both their on and off-field contributions this season. 

“Yvonne and Lisa have both made a significant impact on the squad and their guidance and support for their fellow team-mates has been invaluable,” Harper said.  

“Impressively, Yvonne returned to the competition after over a year off and she did not miss a beat. 

“And Lisa is a hugely respected member of our team who has done a remarkable job of balancing a career in the police force with her football commitments.  

“Yvonne and Lisa will be missed but we wish them all the best with life outside of football and they will always be part of the Crows family.” 

 Niamh McLaughlin had a great first season with Gold Coast Suns
Niamh McLaughlin had a great first season with Gold Coast Suns Niamh McLaughlin had a great first season with Gold Coast Suns

In other news, former Donegal skipper Niamh McLaughlin finished fourth on the recent Gold Coast Suns Best & Fairest count (end of season awards).

Last season’s LGFA Senior Player of the Year, and an Allstar winner, McLaughlin had a stellar debut season in the Suns midfield where she established herself as one of the team’s most consistent players across half-back. 

The Suns finished in fifth place on the season ladder, just a draw out of the top four positions, and lost their home elimination final to the Sydney Swans, after qualifying for the play-offs for the first time in their history.  

Despite their inconsistency, the Suns have proved they can match the best sides on their day, with McLaughlin one of their standout players.  

Claudia Whitfort was anointed the Sun’s Best & Fairest player with 16 points, whilst McLaughlin collected 4 votes, which were the first of her AFLW career.  

“It was a big move coming over here and I did feel a bit anxious but for me it couldn’t have been easier – everyone has been brilliant,” McLaughlin said earlier this season.  

“When you’re relaxed it helps you play better.  

“There’s definitely a lot of similarities between Gaelic football and AFL.   

“I think Gaelic is a bit more of a running game so I want to bring that to my game here.”  

Former Armagh football star Blaithin Mackin is also in contention for honours at the Melbourne Demons end of season awards on Saturday. The speedy winger has been one of the 2023 semi-finalist's most consistent players this year.