Club News

Meghan Gaffney – From Tasmania, to GWS, to Norwood

She’s only formed part of Norwood’s SANFLW make-up for the last month, but Meghan Gaffney has already had a big impact on the program.

The Tasmanian-local, GWS Giants-listed Small Forward made her SANFLW debut for the Redlegs against North Adelaide last Friday night, hitting the ground running with a two-goal, 15-disposal best-on-ground performance.

The 19-year-old will spend the first half of the SANFLW season with Norwood, before returning to Sydney to re-commence her GWS Giants training commitments ahead of the 2023 AFLW season.

“I have fitted in really well at Norwood, the club and playing list is really caring,” Gaffney said.

“We have a great mix of experienced players and younger players, it is exciting to see the young talent coming through, you can really see how good Women’s footy is going to become.

“You can see how skilled and professional the younger girls are, having grown up playing the game from a young age. It’s exciting.”

Norwood wasn’t the obvious option for Gaffney, having grown up in Tasmania and moving to Sydney last year when she was Drafted to GWS.

“My sister, Jess, lives in SA. I came over to see her last year when I was playing for the Tasmania Devils in the Victorian NAB League, and the club (Devils) wanted me to continue training while I was here,” Gaffney said.

“Jess was working with one of the Norwood coaches and training staff, and they were happy to have me come out and train with them.

“After I got drafted to the Giants in June last year, Norwood got in contact with me again and invited me to come and play in the AFLW off-season.

“I love Adelaide, it’s really nice, really hot compared to Tassie but I am getting used to it, and playing with Norwood has been great – the SANFLW is a great competition, really highly regarded.”

GWS Giants-listed player Gaffney booted two goals and gathered 15 disposals in the Round 1 match against the Roosters. Photo: John Emery

Gaffney landed at the Giants with Pick 66 in the 2022 AFLW Draft, playing six games in her debut season.

Playing football from the age of 13 for the Ulverstone Football Club, Gaffney represented the Tasmania Devils for three years.

She went un-drafted in her first Draft-eligible year, but went to work as an over-age player and eventually landed on the radar of GWS Giants recruiters.

“I never thought I had a chance to get drafted, but when I missed out I played for the Devils as an over-age player and gave it my all and was lucky enough to be seen by the Giants and drafted,” she said.

“It was really cool to be drafted, it didn’t sink in for the whole 2022 season I was up there playing, but when I came back to Tassie in the off-season I was being recognised by people.

“You never think it (playing AFLW) has that much of an impact on your home state, but it has and that’s exciting to be inspiring the younger generation.”

Despite playing a major role in her Debut match with Norwood – a high-scoring two-point loss to North Adelaide in Round 1 – Gaffney admitted she was nervous before the first bounce.

“The atmosphere and crowd was awesome at Coopers Stadium, it was the first time we played under the new lights which was exciting,” she said.

“I was nervous. For me this game was as important as any other game – we have such a great team environment and I wanted to play well for the girls.

“Once the game started I was up and about, and kicking a goal was special – I kicked three behinds in the AFLW last year so it was nice to kick a goal – and the girls celebrated with me which was great.”

Living with her sister, Jess, in Mt Barker and commuting to Norwood is no drama for Gaffney, who grew up on a farm in Tasmania’s north-west coast, and flew to Victoria most weekends when representing the Tasmania Devils in the Victorian NAB League, before relocating to Sydney.

“Going from our farm in Ulverstone (west of Devonport) to Sydney was a crazy difference,” she said.

“The traffic in Sydney is hectic – when I drive home in Ulverstone you pass more wallabies than cars, and I definitely haven’t seen a wallaby in Sydney. I feel like I need to pass my Driver’s License again just to drive around Sydney.”

Gaffney has been named in the forward line for Saturday’s Round 2 clash with South Adelaide at Flinders University Stadium in Noarlunga.

The SANFLW match will start at 6pm, with the Development League match scheduled for 4pm.

Check out the full teams here

By Josh Teakle

Meghan Gaffney celebrating her first goal for Norwood in her SANFLW debut last Friday night. Photo: John Emery