2022 AFLW Big Improvers: Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane)

AS Season 7 of the AFL Women’s competition edges closer, there are plenty of players looking to back up what could be considered breakout seasons earlier this year with impactful full-year campaigns. In the Big Improvers series, we take a look at some players who really caught the eye in 2022 with grand strides across the board for their sides.

Today we look at an Irish Lion who came to the fore in an already intimidating Brisbane midfield, Orla O’Dwyer.

ORLA O’DWYER (Brisbane)

Age: 24
Position: Midfielder
Height: 171cm
Draft: 2019 Other – Cross coder
Recruited from: Tipperary, Ireland

2022 was a great season for O’Dwyer. It was her third in the system and the one where she finally made a name for herself.

Although not the most well known among Brisbane’s cavalcade of midfielders, one thing became more and more apparent as the 2022 season progressed – do not underestimate O’Dwyer if you want to win against Brisbane. It was as simple as that.

Since her debut in 2020, she has been slowly growing as a footballer and 2022 was the season where it all came together for her.

Being three years into the system now also means that O’Dwyer has the footy smarts now to not only use her pace to burst out of packs to set up an attacking play, but do so in the most effective way possible.

With all this in mind, there is absolutely no surprise then when you take a look at her stats and she has improved in just about every category.

Disposal Efficiency52.2%57.2%
Metres Gained250.6325.2
O’Dwyer’s average stat progression 2021 to 2022

All this improvement came with some personal success for the young Lion too.

She, alongside Cora Staunton became the first Irish players to make the All Australian squad and O’Dwyer went on to make history as the first Irish player to make the AFLW All Australian team.

So the question now is how much further does O’Dwyer continue to grow. Under the tutelage of Craig Starcevich and with the likes of the experienced heads of Emily Bates and Ally Anderson still around her in the midfield, there is no reason to suggest we will not see even more continued growth from the Irish star.

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