Cora Staunton has made a name for herself in multiple football codes throughout her illustrious career. Staunton is best known as a ladies’ Gaelic footballer, having achieved great success with Mayo. She has won four All-Ireland titles and three Ladies’ National Football League titles, establishing herself as one of the sport’s finest players. Staunton has also been named an All Star eleven times, a testament to her exceptional skills and contributions to the game.
However, Staunton’s talents extend beyond Gaelic football. She has showcased her abilities in three other football codes at a senior level. In 2006, she ventured into association football and clinched an FAI Women’s Cup winner’s medal with the Mayo Ladies’ League representative team. Staunton’s versatility was further demonstrated when she started playing rugby union for Castlebar Ladies in the Connacht Women’s League in 2013. Her determination and skill on the rugby field led her team to victory in the league.
In 2018, Staunton embarked on a new sporting journey by making her Australian rules football debut in the AFLW competition for the Greater Western Sydney Giants. She quickly made her mark in the league and became renowned as one of the greatest goalkickers in AFLW history by 2022. Staunton’s remarkable talent and dedication have also earned her a place in the Ireland women’s international rules football team.
Off the field, Staunton has shared her incredible story in her autobiography titled “Game Changer,” which was released in 2018. The book was recognized as the 2018 Bord Gáis Energy Sports Book of the Year, further solidifying Staunton’s status as a sporting icon.
Staunton’s journey in Gaelic football began at the age of seven in her local school in Carnacon. She later played with boys’ teams in Ballinrobe, where she had the opportunity to play alongside Alan Dillon, who would become a prominent figure in Gaelic football as well. Staunton made her senior debut for the Mayo county ladies’ football team at the tender age of 13 in 1995. Despite suffering a collarbone injury just a week before the 1999 All-Ireland final, she courageously took the field for a mere 90 seconds as a symbolic gesture. Staunton’s first full All-Ireland appearance came in 2000, where she played a pivotal role in Mayo’s victory over Waterford with her impressive score of 2:2. Although she experienced heartbreak in the 2001 All-Ireland final, losing by a single point to Laois, Staunton and Mayo bounced back to claim two consecutive All-Ireland titles in 2002 and 2003. She continued to represent Mayo in numerous All-Ireland finals, leaving an indelible mark on the sport. Additionally, Staunton has achieved success at the club level, winning six All-Ireland Ladies Club Football Championships with Carnacon.
Staunton’s association football career has seen her play for Ballyglass Ladies in the Mayo Ladies League. While she declined an invitation to trials for the Republic of Ireland U-16s to focus on Gaelic football, she continued to excel at the club level. In 2006, Staunton was part of the Mayo Ladies League representative team that triumphed in the FAI Women’s Cup, defeating UCD 1-0 in the final. Her commitment to both sports was evident when she scored for Mayo in a UEFA Women’s Cup match before returning to Ireland to compete in an All-Ireland Senior Ladies’ Football Championship quarter-final game.
Staunton’s rugby union career began in 2013 when she made her debut for Castlebar Ladies in the Connacht Women’s League. Her impact was immediate, scoring seven tries in a resounding win. She went on to captain Castlebar to the league title, showcasing her leadership skills and passion for the sport.
Staunton’s decision to embrace Australian rules football came after a conversation with fellow Irishman Nick Walsh, an assistant coach at the Greater Western Sydney Giants. In 2017, she made history by becoming the first international player to be signed to an AFL Women’s list when she was drafted by the Giants. Her achievements in the AFLW have been nothing short of extraordinary, with her goal-scoring prowess earning her a place among the league’s all-time greats. Staunton’s impact was felt both on and off the field, as she represented Ireland in the Euro Cup 9-a-side Australian rules tournament in Cork.
On August 28, 2022, Staunton reached a significant milestone in her AFL career, scoring her 50th goal in a match against the Western Bulldogs. With only Darcy Vescio ahead of her, Staunton solidified her place in AFLW history. However, in March 2023, Staunton announced her retirement from Australian rules football, concluding a remarkable chapter in her sporting journey.
Cora Staunton’s remarkable career has seen her excel in multiple football codes, leaving an indelible mark on each sport she has played.