AFLW #23 - Renee “Nae Nae” Tierney

~20yo medium forward. Solid, runs up and down the ground, lots of marks. Got some tricks, works well with Frew. Two of our four goals this past weekend, and in the top ten for the league.


Tequila fan. Maybe. I’m not sure if it was an unwanted shout. All I know is, I had to drink tequila.


From the EFC article:

Tierney … joined Essendon at the start of this VFLW season after playing three seasons of NAB League with the Geelong Falcons and representing Vic Country in the AFLW U19 Girls Championships last year.

Quickly impressing with her contested marks and ability to hit the scoreboard, Tierney has been a key target up forward, kicking 16 goals throughout her 12 games in the red and black.

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A nice tierney of events! Welcome Renee!

Kicks goals from the pocket like Daria Bannister.

Is the record holder for games and goals for the Geelong Falcons (she cheated a bit, due to the pandemic allowing some to be there for 4 rather than 3 years).


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Piece by (mostly not about) her in 2021:

Renee Tierney of the Geelong Falcons kicks for goal during the NAB League match between the Bendigo Pioneers and the Geelong Falcons. (Photo by Cameron Grimes/AFL Photos)

Renee Tierney is a talented young footballer who also has recently joined the AFL Corporate Affairs team on a 12-month traineeship through AFL SportsReady.

She talks about her heartbreak at missing a full season in 2020, supposed to be her top-age year in NAB League girls, the challenges associated with 2021 including being denied the chance to contest the VFLW Grand Final, and how important 2022 will be for football at all levels.

The Covid effect on football

In an unprecedented couple of years, it has been challenging for everyone to keep motivated. There’s nothing like spending your Sunday cooped up inside when you should be out there kicking goals, making a tackle, or taking a run down the wing.

With the 2020 Victorian football season cancelled there was little hope for the next Darcy Vescio to get the chance to shine. Almost no community football was played, Boys and Girls NAB League cancelled and the shutdown of the VFL & VFLW seasons meant limited to no opportunity for anyone to shine.

Consequently, 2021 has been imperative to all levels of football. The re-engagement of the AFL community has been a testament to all organisations involved in getting the game back to where it belongs.

In 2020 only three NAB League Girls games were completed before the entire season was cancelled due to the pandemic. The abandonment was detrimental to the draft class of that year. Many 18-year-olds were left with unfinished business – it being their last opportunity to showcase their talents at state level.

Many questioned what the AFL would do to compensate for the amount of game play missed. Their solution to increase the age of eligibility to 19 (years old) was a bold, but necessary, move. It allowed those undrafted to have the opportunity to play again.

Bouncing back in 2021

There was an immense amount of anticipation to the start of the 2021 NAB League season. It was the first state league level football competition to be held in the new year and females were at the helm. After a Covid free summer and shortened pre-season, signs were positive heading into round one. Albeit, following the completion of the first game, Victoria was placed in to a snap week-long lockdown. All games were put on hold and fear was instilled into players and teams as many assumed it could be another year with no football.

However, a week or so later games resumed and the league was extremely lucky that the rest of the season remained on track with minimal disruptions. The completion of the NAB League Girls season was satisfying for many, as they were grateful to just be playing with some consistency.

Throughout periods of the NAB season and later in the year, the u19 National Carnival was also ongoing. The tournament was scheduled to be held in Queensland in the mid-year school holidays, however this did not occur as a Covid outbreak hit QLD andVictorians were restricted from travelling. As a result, the games were spread out over a number of weeks in Melbourne.

With masks worn and Covid protocols in place at dinners, meetings and surrounding all games, there was not much room left for anything in the minds of players other than football and Covid. There was slight disappointment that the games were not held in Queensland, however by this time there was an immense understanding amongst all levels of the AFL that it was critical to just get in as much football as possible and eventually the QLD side joined the rest of the teams in the Covid safe Melbourne bubble.

With players finally able to connect with others across the state and nation, the Vic Country team came together to claim the title of National Champions with a 3-0 win/loss record. Led by AFLW legend Melissa Hickey, the group took convincing wins against cross town rivals Victoria Metro as well as South Australia and Queensland.

Renee Tierney of Vic Country kicks the ball during the AFLW U19 Girls Championships match between Vic Country and Queensland. (Photo by Kelly Defina/AFL Photos)

Playing at a national level was pivotal for this group of girls who didn’t get the chance in the previous year. It set the stage for the standard of young female football in Australia and highlighted the talent that is emerging from state level programs.

Following a big first half of the year many young girls turned to either establishing themselves in VFLW programs, or their local clubs. Taking their talents to the next level the VFLW allowed for greater exposure to young footballers looking to get drafted in 2021, while others looked for a physical and mental break.

Leaning on their local clubs many players returned home to established the connection to their football community that was severely missed. While restrictions remained and there were no spectators allowed, the spirit of local footy lived on. Being socially active and involved in the game restored the passion for many who missed the opportunity previously because of Covid.

Alongside this, the VFLW season had survived majority of the year with minimal disruptions. Their greatest challenge occurred towards the end of the season. With the first two rounds of finals played, Geelong was set to face Collingwood in the Grand Final. However, the match was post-poned due to another lockdown in Melbourne grinding the season to an abrupt halt.

Messages received by the clubs from the AFL claimed they had every intention to get the game played despite the standstill. The players continued to maintain hope and continued to train where possible.

The uncertainty surround the resumption of the season was mentally taxing on a number of players. Many wondered whether or not they should keep working as hard as they had been, or allow for time to rest and recover. Players became lethargic and negative about the situation. This was especially tough for the AFLW girls involved who were set to start their new pre-season in close to a month.

Unfortunately, the Grand Final was cancelled due to the continued extension of the Melbourne lockdown. Similarly to 2020 all state and community football was also then abandoned. A disappointing result for not only players, but clubs, competitions and the AFL alike.

2022… bring it on!

There is much hope however for the 2022 season with the slow return to normality for Victoria. Having completed a positive AFL season all we can hope for now is that the AFLW women prove to have an equally successful year, with state league and local football to follow.

We have already seen the successful resumption of competition in Victorian with the recent completion of the AFL Blind and Wheelchair Football seasons.

We now look forward to a highly anticipated sixth season of the AFLW competition, and hopefully this will set the tone for a fantastic season of football in 2022 from the elite game all the way down to grassroots footy.

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By Blake Gaffiero

Renee Tierney admits that her delayed inclusion to Essendon’s AFLW lineup in 2023 caused some headaches, but it was well worth the wait.

The 21-year-old marked her first game of the season with a solid performance as the Bombers ground out a 17-point victory over the Tigers, becoming a focal point in the attack on return.

Speaking post-match, the relief for Tierney in getting back on the field with her teammates was clear to see.

“I’ve just said to a few girls I’m so excited and happy. I had fun out there and that’s something I’ve been really looking for,” Tierney said.

“It’s my first win, so I’m very happy.”

After missing her first shot at goal, some clever positioning allowed Tierney another chance to extend the Bombers’ lead going into half-time from a set shot.

Keen to make amends, Tierney converted truly to secure her first AFLW career goal.

“I shanked the first one, so I was like ‘I’ve got to get this second one’,” Tierney said.

“I wasn’t sure if I had the distance or not, but I just trusted myself and went through it and thought ‘just think of the feeling if you do’.”

After waiting six weeks to appear in 2023 and build off the two games from her debut season, Tierney found herself frustrated, but with clear motivation to establish her spot when an opportunity presented itself.

“I think it was really disappointing and frustrating, but I just worked my ass off regardless,” Tierney said.

“I was trying to ‘stay ready’ rather than ‘get ready’ and just take my opportunity when it came. I’m just trying to make as much impact as I can with what I was given.”

Now well into their second year in the competition, Tierney can see how the Bombers have gelled over time and become a tighter-knit unit as a result.

Entering a forward line filled with exciting scoring options, Tierney is ready to do what she can to make life easier for her teammates up top.

“We’ve all known each other for almost a year now, which is more than we had last year. I think we just trust each other and the way that we play,” Tierney said.

“(The forward line) just feels so supportive, like I know I’ve got people to lean on and they can lean on me.

“If they ask something of me, I’m going to do it, and if I ask something of them, they’ll return it as well. We work for each other, and I think that’s what makes us dangerous and gets a few different people on the scoreboard.”

The Bombers are looking ahead to a crunch clash with West Coast at Windy Hill on Sunday, with an opportunity to improve to a 6-2 record for the season.

After a loss to the Eagles in the pre-season, the fixture presents a chance for the Bombers to show their improvement in front of their home faithful, with Tierney hopeful of a strong turnout.

“We’ve got a bit of a point to prove to ourselves and just show how far we’ve come since then and really drive that through each other,” Tierney said.

“Windy Hill is one of the best grounds in this competition, there’s so much love and heart there and so many good memories.

“If you can get down and support, it does mean the world, you’re an extra player and extra voice.”

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