CORA Staunton's match-winning four-goal haul against Richmond last week wasn't just a boost for Greater Western Sydney's finals hopes, it was a remarkable feat just over 10 months after her sporting career looked over.
When Staunton snapped her leg playing local footy in May last year, most not only ruled her out of the 2020 NAB AFL Women's season but doubted her ability to get back on any field at all.
The 38-year-old is a Gaelic football legend in Ireland and there were genuine fears that retirement was her only option after she broke the tibia and fibula in her right leg.
However, those close to Staunton, especially GWS coach Alan McConnell, backed her to not only return to playing, but produce her best footy.
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Staunton incredibly completed her rehabilitation to be fit for the Giants' season opener but after booting just one goal from the opening three games, she admits even she had second thoughts about rushing back.
But a brilliant performance against the Tigers last week saw Staunton back to her best, powerful and explosive, and dangerous inside 50, and she couldn't be happier.
"It's been a tough ride," she said.
"The first month of the season didn't go the way I would have liked performance-wise, but the injury was a big one both physically and mentally, and I realised I have to be patient," she said.
"I knew I still had it in me, and I suppose some people doubted me.
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"I probably had a few doubts myself creeping in over the last couple of weeks, because my form wasn't going that well.
"But you just have to keep ticking away and believing in yourself, and it was nice to get a bit of reward."
Staunton might have been missing her fellow Irish goalkicker Yvonne Bonner (ankle) against Richmond, but the re-emergence of Rebecca Privitelli gives the Giants two exciting targets, who not only mark the footy, but have the mobility to be just as effective at ground level.
With the strength of Jacinda Barclay and rucks Erin McKinnon and Jess Allan also inside 50 at times, and Bonner set to return should GWS make the finals, the team has plenty of options to kick a winning score, which has long been the club's biggest issue in AFLW.
"We don't care who kicks the goals on any given day, as long as we're kicking them," Staunton said.
"The biggest thing this team craves is consistency and we've been a bit up and down, so going into this weekend, we really want to put together a couple of back-to-back quality performances."
McConnell said this week's clash with Adelaide on the road will be another huge test for his forward line.
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"We do have a lot of girls ahead of the footy that can mark the ball which requires us to get it down there with some speed, because otherwise we can get caught out a bit with keeping it in there," he said.
"It's an interesting combination and I continue to believe that we can get there in the end with the players we've got.
"That’s why I don't fear any team in the competition."