Four 'whirlwind' months for Giants' four-goal hero

IRISH AFLW star Cora Staunton's past four months have been a blur filled with grief, hotel quarantine and hastily rearranged plans.

Staunton booted four goals to help GWS defeat West Coast by 20 points on Sunday, marking both her and the club's best performance of the year.

AFLW Match Highlights: Greater Western Sydney v West Coast

04:37 Feb 21. 2021. 7:35 PM

The Giants and Eagles clash in round four of the NAB AFL Women's competition

The Giants' preparation for this season was sombre, coming after the shock death of teammate Jacinda Barclay last October, and chaotic.

They shifted to a bare-bones temporary base in Albury at the start of the year because of COVID-19 cases in Sydney.

The squad spent time in Canberra and Adelaide then started their campaign in Perth as Western Australia announced its lockdown, ensuring they had to self-isolate upon eventually arriving in Sydney.

Staunton's path to Sydney was even longer, taking in a 63-hour journey from Ireland plus a fortnight quarantining in Perth.

Memories of Barclay, who helped welcome the Gaelic football legend to the club, have been omnipresent.

Cora Staunton (left) and Jacinda Barclay during the Giants' 2020 team photo. Picture: AFL Photos

"It has been very tough. Losing a teammate and a very influential teammate as well," Staunton said.

"It has certainly brought us closer, but the first time we came together as a full group – all staff and players – was when we came back to Sydney (after round one).

"It's amazing to think you lose a teammate but don't see everyone until then. That was hard.

"It was hard for me personally coming back to the club. Walking past her locker and her not being there, it was difficult."

GWS and Adelaide players remember Jacinda Barclay after their pre-season practice match. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Staunton was on the other side of the world when she learned of Barclay's passing.

After a few false starts and a last-minute change in final destination, the League's Irish players departed in December.

A 12-hour stopover in London, 17-hour stopover in Singapore and 14-day stint in a hotel room followed before they were released on Christmas Day.

"I'm very lucky," Staunton said.

"Things aren't as good at home. We're on our third lockdown, they have another nine weeks of lockdown.

"The AFL made sure we had footballs, exercise equipment (in quarantine)."

Staunton flew to Melbourne and, having finally had a kick on Boxing Day, was told she must stay away from Sydney.

"Then it was just a whirlwind. Albury, Canberra, Adelaide. It was just over eight weeks on the road until I got to Sydney ... a lot of flights," the 39-year-old said.

"I'm not one for moving around. I'm certainly glad to be settled in Sydney."

The Giants, having banked consecutive wins, next face the Western Bulldogs on Saturday.

Did you head to the footy over the weekend? Tell us your thoughts! Take the survey now