Plucked from AFL Sydney side Inner West Magpies (and Newtown Breakaways prior to that), the 30-year-old Sheerin has been named in the All-Australian squad and has been a key part of Richmond’s surge up the ladder.
But with draft interest from both Richmond and Greater Western Sydney on the table, the Tigers have one anonymous supporter to thank for Sheerin opting to nominate for the Victorian draft pool.
Sheerin had spent a season with the Giants as a train-on player before rupturing her ACL, and then returned to the club for an invitational series against Sydney earlier this year.
“Trent Moseby, he’s our list manager, and he’s very diligent, so I imagine he looked through a lot of very average-quality AFL Sydney footage and saw me at some stage. He reached out towards the end of that invitational series and I’d just been told by GWS that day that they wanted to draft me,” Sheerin told womens.afl.
“I was doing recovery after the game, and I was driving a car I’d bought from a car dealership. It has a CD player in it which sits underneath the back seats, so you don’t really know it’s in there. I bumped the media console, and it started playing this CD which was in the player. And it had one track on it – the Richmond Football Club song.
“It’s still crazy, and it still sits in there, I’m treating it as a good luck charm. I’m never removing the CD from the car. I didn’t think anything of it, and that night Libby Graham – who was also being signed by Richmond (through a trade from the Giants) – had reached out to see if it was OK to pass on my number to Trent.
“I was wary of the change, there wasn’t much time before I had to be down in Melbourne, and I’d have to uproot my whole life. It was exciting, but there was a bit of fear in there as well. “Initially I said no, that it was too short and I wasn’t ready, that I wouldn’t be able to get the most out of myself as a footballer if there were so many other elements changing. I spoke to my family and friends, and every single one said I had to do it, that there was no reason to not take up the opportunity.
“In that, the universe makes things charmingly obvious to you, and I had to come down and meet with the club, and once I did, I absolutely loved it.”
Stella Reid and Eilish Sheerin celebrate after Richmond’s clash against North Melbourne in round 10, S7, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos
The torn ACL which halted her journey at GWS was on the opposite knee to the one she had suffered 10 years earlier as a semi-professional soccer player, and she subsequently drifted away from the sport.
Sheerin picked up football through friends at Newtown in either 2018 or 2019 (she’s not too sure on the finer details), and had primarily played as an inside midfielder throughout, making her All-Australian squad nod as a rebounding half-back even more astonishing.
“I hadn’t played backline until this year. You just go in with a growth mindset and being eager to learn. I’m so lucky, yes, I’m having to learn it at the top level, not local, but we’ve got great coaches as well, who understand exactly what you have to do,” Sheerin said.
“Richmond’s always been really great, they say play to your strengths. So when you’re out there, play to your natural instincts, but here are some basic structures to play around. The messaging from the club down to our backs coach, Lauren Tesoriero, is really simple, clear and easy to follow.
“I’m surrounded by some amazing players that help provide that guidance, Bec Miller is such a general back there with a great voice, Beth Lynch is another one who has played 25-plus games, and even Libby, who’s just come in and playing more consistent games, she’s so keen to learn and has come along in leaps and bounds.”
Sheerin works as a business development manager for a company her mum, Petra Playfair, started 35 years ago, which specialises in visas and migration.
Conveniently, the company has offices in both Sydney and Dandenong in Melbourne, meaning she was able to continue her role after moving for AFLW, and she can also work from home when required.
“She’s an absolute gun, she’s been a finalist for Telstra’s businesswoman of the year a couple of times, they’ve been the largest provider of legal assistance to asylum seekers. So as a consequence of that, I’ve worked in detention centres, both in Australia and internationally,” Sheerin said.
“I used to spend a lot of time flying up to Manus Island and doing the claims assistance, providing provisions to the asylum seekers who were held in detention centres up there.
“We’ve now moved a little more into the corporate space, and I’m the director of a division we’ve created to help migrants, predominantly from south-east Asia, to help them come to Australia and help them set up businesses here and thrive.”