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Irish star Oisin Mullin to join AFL premiers Geelong; AFLW membership record for season seven

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Essendon re-embarked on a search for a new CEO after Andrew Thorburn chose to resign just one day into the role when it became clear he could not be both chair of the faith-based City on a Hill organization and the Bombers due to controversial comments made by the organization’s pastor. His appointment came after long-serving CEO Xavier Campbell resigned when the board sacked coach Ben Rutten.

AFL executive Travis Auld has been linked to the job but with the AFL’s search for a new CEO ongoing he is likely to remain at the league while that process continues and former Collingwood CEO Mark Anderson is also a potential candidate.

Essendon, North Melbourne, Collingwood and the AFL are all searching for new CEOs with the Kangaroos closing in on making an appointment.

Geelong football manager Simon Lloyd is among the final candidates for the North Melbourne position.

Mayo star to bolster the Cats

Marc McGowan

Geelong will have a third Irishman on their AFL list next season, with Mayo star Oisin Mullin to bolster the reigning premiers in 2023.

Mullin, who elected to stay in Ireland after originally committing to the Cats for last season, has been approved for a visa and will join Chris Scott’s side for the pre-season.

The 22-year-old was the Gaelic Athletic Association’s Young Footballer of the Year in 2020 and 2021 and is one of the premier defenders in the Irish game.

Mullin will join countrymen Zach Tuohy and Mark O’Connor at Geelong, as a category B rookie, after they both played in the Cats’ grand final triumph this year.

Mayo’s Oisin Mullin will join the Cats.Credit:Getty Images

They were the first Irishmen to play in an AFL premiership since former Swan Tadhg Kennelly managed that feat with the Swans in 2005.

Geelong were also in the Conor McKenna race before the Irish ex-Bomber instead opted to join the Brisbane Lions for next season.

The Cats never delisted Mullin and list manager Andrew Mackie and national recruiting manager Stephen Wells kept in contact with the Irishman throughout the year.

AFLW player Rachel Kearns hails from the same county as Mullin.

Mark O'Connor (left) celebrates the AFL grand final win with Irish teammate Zach Tuohy.

Mark O’Connor (left) celebrates the AFL grand final win with Irish teammate Zach Tuohy.Credit:AFL Photos

“As a club, we appreciate the magnitude of moving overseas and understood Oisin’s reasons for remaining in Ireland and not joining us for this season,” Mackie said.

“We are thrilled he will now join the Cats for season 2023. He is a gifted talent, however, most importantly, a quality person who will be a great addition to our playing squad.

“Oisin has had another impressive season with Mayo, and we are looking forward to welcoming him and his partner Jess to the club and to Geelong.”

But industry sources have told The Age that fellow Irishman Ultan Kelm is not expected to join Fremantle.

Sydney looks to the future at national draft

Peter Ryan

Sydney have told other clubs that they are willing to trade their first-round picks in this year’s national draft to bolster their hand in next year’s draft.

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The Swans hold picks 14 and 17 in Monday night’s draft but have told clubs both picks are on offer if the right package can be found.

Next year’s draft crop is considered to be strong with several clubs saying that the 2022 national draft, which kicks off on Monday, flattens out after the top dozen players. The trade would need to occur as a live trade during the draft, with the window for pre-draft pick swaps having closed on November 15.

North Melbourne, Melbourne, the Giants and the Western Bulldogs all have multiple first-round picks in 2023 and may be tempted to give up one of those selections to do a deal with Sydney.

The Demons have shown willingness to get into this year’s draft by trading future picks by making offers to clubs high up in the draft order, as well as sounding out the Giants around pick 19.

They have used the strategy successfully in their rebuild with other clubs saying they are keen on defender Jakob Ryan, who has also attracted Collingwood’s interest. Melbourne have pick 13 currently while the Magpies hold pick 16.

Record AFLW membership numbers

Marnie Vinall

A record for AFLW club memberships was set in season seven with 75,568 memberships, after the league expanded to the full complement of 18 teams.

With four new clubs, Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney joining in season seven, the membership figure surpasses the previous record of 48,712 from season six and is a 55 per cent growth season on season.

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Since season five (2021), there has been 193 per cent growth in AFLW membership sales and this season, 17 of the 18 clubs achieved AFLW membership records, with Sydney (7757), Adelaide (6706) and Geelong (5938) the top three clubs.

All four expansion clubs ranked in the top eight clubs for membership in season seven.

“It has truly been a unique year – two seasons, a new CBA, four new clubs, we took matches to places we have never been before and with it came new fans, more members and more people engaged in our competition than ever before, ” said AFL general manager customer and commercial Kylie Rogers.

“The passion for AFLW on and off the field is unmatched in national women’s sports competitions across the country. This passion is a powerful tool, and we must continue to harness it for good and celebrate the difference, the uniqueness and the joy that is AFLW football.”

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