by Jackie Cahill
Donegal star Yvonne Bonner is happy to put her Australian adventure on hold – as long as Glenfin keep on winning.
Ace forward Bonner (31) will link up with the Greater Western Sydney Giants for the 2019 Women’s AFL campaign – and pre-season training is due to begin on November 14.
Bonner, who will have Cora Staunton as a team-mate, could yet go head-to-head with the Mayo legend on home soil before jetting off.
Bonner is preparing for this afternoon’s (SAT) Ulster Ladies Senior Club Final against Monaghan’s Donaghmoyne, with Staunton due in action for Carnacon against Galway’s Kilkerrin-Clonberne in the Connacht decider.
If both clubs progress, they’re on opposite sides of the draw for the All-Ireland semi-finals in mid-November, with the Ulster champions due to face the Leinster winners, while Mourneabbey from Cork are already through from Munster to face the Connacht representatives.
Staunton put her travelling plans on hold last year until Carnacon’s club campaign came to an end.
But that wasn’t until early December as Carnacon went all the way to national glory, while the 2018 Final is pencilled in for December 8.
And Bonner said: “I’ll stay on if we keep winning.
“Pre-season starts over there on November 14 and there’s a players’ welfare day as well on the 17th in Melbourne.”
The GWS Giants swooped for Bonner after she impressed on the Cross Coders programme, which allows female athletes the chance to become a professional player in Australia.
In September, Bonner travelled to Melbourne for a rookie trial, which clashed with Glenfin’s county final victory over Moville.
She recalls: “I was caught between a rock and a hard place but I got home early from the camp and got to play the first match in the Ulster championship against Lurgan.”
GWS coach Alan McConnell moved quickly to secure the services of Bonner and with contract signed, she was back home to concentrate on club duties.
Glenfin have contested just the one Ulster Senior Final previously, back in 2011 when Donaghmoyne ran out 1-14 to 0-4 winners.
The same opponents await Glenfin again as they aim to crack the Ulster code and while the gap was large on that occasion, Bonner declares that Glenfin are “quietly confident.”
2017 evidence would suggest that they have every right to be as Glenfin suffered a narrow two-point loss to St Macartan’s at the semi-final stage, before the Tyrone side stunned Donaghmoyne in the provincial decider.
Bonner reflects: “Last year was a big year for us – we pushed on from the county and had St Macs at home. It was a great game and we were very unlucky not to come out of that with a win.
“St Macartan’s showed how good they were and went on to win it (Ulster title). Our team is the same as last year but far more experienced and the younger ones have come on in leaps and bounds in the last year alone.
“That’s the main difference – the younger ones are stepping up. We know it’s a massive challenge against Donaghmoyne but we’ll be quietly confident as well.
“We’d rather go in as underdogs but we know what they’re capable of as well. We’re not naïve but when it’s a final, it’s anybody’s.
“It’s great for the club, which is on a high at the minute. The men won the intermediate championship and the U21s are doing well, still in the competition.
“There’s not too many clubs with men and women preparing for Ulster and there’s a great buzz. It would mean so much to keep going and make history,” adds Bonner, a 2018 TG4 All Star nominee.
When Glenfin’s campaign does eventually come to an end, Bonner will turn her attentions to the GWS giants.
And she says: “The Cross Coders got in touch on Instagram – I wouldn’t have heard of it only for they messaged me.
“We were back and forth with a few Skype calls and they invited 20 of us from all over the world, 11 from Ireland, to come to the camp and it went from there.
“It was a really strange but exciting week – it was the first year the Cross Coders had done this, it was new to them.
“It should be a great experience and the good thing is that I don’t have to make a choice. I get to come back and play with the county and club again, and in a high standard of shape and fitness.”