How’s this for dedication as Letterkenny woman plays through pain barrier for Ireland

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One Letterkenny woman has shown how to play through the pain barrier at the AFL International Cup in Australia.

After embarking on the trip Down Under with The Irish Banshees, the teak tough Leona Russell wasn’t going to allow the small matter of a dislocated finger stop her from lining up!

The Banshees have won their opening two games in style, defeating USA Freedom by 38 points and then hammering the European Crusaders 61-0.

Russell is one of six Donegal players on the Irish squad.

After suffering an ankle injury in the lead-up to the competition, Russell dislocated the index finger in her left hand at training with the Banshees.

Russell played in the win over the Crusaders in Ballarat.

“What a feeling wearing that jersey and signing the national anthem,” said Russell, who had to have surgery to put her finger back in place.

“No way I was coming all the way here just to sit and watch!”

The six Irish Banshees players from Donegal in Melbourne.
The six Irish Banshees players from Donegal in Melbourne.

Russell is joined on the Irish squad by Gweedore quintet Aisling Gillespie, Roisin McFadden, Rachel McGee, Carolann Cassidy and Fiona Roarty – all of whom play for the Ulster Ulster Kookaburras.

In the win over the Crusaders, Roarty kicked one of the Irish goals, while former Letterkenny Institute of Technology student Aine Higgins, from Galway, scored two of the goals.

Ireland lead the way in their group from Papua New Guinea and USA.

Carolann Cassidy with Aaron Kyles and Tommy Gallagher, who assisted in her preparation for her trip to Australia with the Irish Banshees
Carolann Cassidy with Aaron Kyles and Tommy Gallagher, who assisted in her preparation for her trip to Australia with the Irish Banshees

Their next game is against Papua New Guinea in Hallem.

The Irish Banshees have been competing Internationally since 2010 when they played Italy at the Euro Cup in Milan.

The team have an unbeaten record at the Euro Cup and were the winners of the inaugural International Cup for women in 2011. They competed in the first women’s European Championship held in London last year and were winners of the first women’s London Footy Carnival held in May.

Sports writer from St Johnston, now based in Letterkenny, with ten years' experience covering sport in Donegal. Was a nominee for NUJ Sports Journalist of the Year in 2010. Honoured by the Donegal Boxing Board in 2016 for his coverage on the sport.

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