AFL U18s Player Focus: Adam D’Aloia (South Australia)
FEW players could lay claim to having a consistent inside presence as South Australian onballer Adam D’Aloia. The Woodville-West Torrens midfielder thrives at the coalface and incredibly valuable at getting first hands to the ball and assisting in wining his side clearances, be it in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) or AFL Under 18 Championships.
D’Aloia skippered the Croweaters in the 2022 AFL Under 18 Championships and backed up his obvious leadership skills with performances many expected of him at the carnival. One of the premier inside midfielders, D’Aloia showcased his contested ball-winning ability, clean hands, clearance knack and incredible strength in close to earn his state’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Though D’Aloia can be damaging with ball-in-hand, he is equally worrisome for the opposition with his defensive pressure. He is a tackling machine, and when not laying tackles, the hardnut is pressuring the opposition or doing the team things with one percenters. The knock on the Croweaters skipper is his athleticism, but if clubs can overlook that, as well as a touch of polish by foot, D’Aloia can be a strong inside player with high-level consistency.
SEASON SO FAR
Reserves – 2 games | 19.5 disposals (9.0 kicks, 10.5 handballs), 2.0 marks, 8.0 tackles, 6.0 clearances, 3.5 inside 50s
Under 18s – 8 games | 30.5 disposals (16.0 kicks, 14.5 handballs), 3.5 marks, 5.9 tackles, 8.1 clearances, 6.9 inside 50s, 0.8 goals (6 total)
There is little doubt that whatever level D’Aloia plays, he will stuff the stats sheet for the Eagles. He was a step above at Under 18s level, playing eight games and averaging 30 touches, six clearances, eight tackles and seven inside 50s across the 2022 SANFL season. He stepped up to play two games at Reserves level, amassing 24 disposals, six tackles and six clearances on debut, and maintained his six-clearance average through his more recent second game at that level. Yet to make his League debut, it seems something on the horizon, however it is difficult to crack into the Eagles side.
2022 AFL Under 18 National Championships
South Australia 12.10 (82) def. by Western Australia 15.10 (100)
Adam D’Aloia had an unassuming first half, where unsurprisingly his main ball-winning ability came from at the coalface. He amassed 10 disposals in the first 35 minutes of the match, and was leading all-comers throughout the contest. He started at the centre bounce, and won a clearance via a slick handball at the five-minute mark, then grabbed another quick handball whilst being tackled well. No stranger to free kicks one way or another, D’Aloia was handed one for going up for a mark on the wing and copping contact before he could completely control it, and though his kick inside 50 went to a dangerous spot, it was intercepted in the back 50.
D’Aloia would continue to accumulate the ball in the second term, with his lightning hands and strength in close standing out once again. Having to go head-to-head with fellow highly-touted AFL Draft prospect Elijah Hewett, D’Aloia was able to crash and bash around the hardballs. He had an important clearing kick from a staoppage in the middle to go inside 50 which set up a score, then intercepted at the top of 50 a moment later to kick deep. His half ended with a holding the ball free against after trying to win the ball and get his kick away with a flying snap which did not quite work, but nonetheless it was a productive first half.
D’Aloia remained solid throughout the second half, though missed a fair chunk of football in the final term, limiting himself to just three disposals in that quarter – after 20 in the first three terms – but being one of South Australia’s best. he won a couple of big clearances in the third term, with one play at the 11 and a half minute mark coming as a clearance from the middle inside 50, then somehow getting to half-forward, intercept marking and receiving a 50m penalty. D’Aloia made no mistake from point blank range to register his name on the scoresheet.
The Croweaters skipper had a second chance on goal 10 minutes later and remarkably had a second 50m penalty awarded to him for encroachment, but his set shot from 40m missed to the right. The final term started with a strong tackle two minutes in and a clearance before copping a big knock and having to come back on. He returned for a bit only to receive another big knock from a marking contest. He would win a couple more disposals including a quick handball leading to a clearance, inside 50 and eventual goal in the final few minutes, with a tackle in the dying minutes his last act of a very busy day for the skipper.