Madigan’s competitive streak sees Dog rise up draft boards

CENTRAL District defender Georgia Madigan‘s rise from relative consistent role player to genuine key player over the last few seasons is one symbolic of the Dogs’ rise up the SANFL Women’s ladder. The Dogs won their breakthrough women’s flag last season in their first finals series, and Madigan was one of the key players throughout 2023.

Though often playing in defence in unheralded, Madigan said it was “nice not having the ball in there all the time” as it allowed her to up her offensive game and join in the transition from the back 50 to forward 50.

“It meant that I was able to help our team press up the ground a little more rather than worrying about it coming back straight away which was great,” she said.

“That was amazing (2023 SANFLW flag). Especially going from sixth place in the 2022 season. We did a lot of work in the off-season on our team values and culture and all the girls bought into it straight away which was awesome. Then got to hold the flag at the end and the cup and that was pretty amazing.”

Madigan has not always been a footballer, having cross from basketball to pursue the sport for a bit of fun, but over the last six years, the now 24-year-old has developed into a reliable and strong defender.

“I played basketball for 14 years, never thought of myself of playing football because there wasn’t really the opportunity for women back in those days,” Madigan said. “I started playing footy because one of my friends, Maddy Lane‘s brother told me to come out and try and was lucky enough to get picked up for the inaugural Central’s year after a couple of games.

“That’s pretty much how I got into it. Now into my sixth season out here, loving it, being able to progress as a leader and I just love the team environment of footy and especially the culture we’ve got at culture.”

It is evident in the way she plays, but Madigan hates to be beaten in contests, and regards that side of her game as her greatest strength.

“Personally I think my competitiveness is a good strength,” Madigan said. “One-on-one generally. I just flick a switch and I don’t like being beaten so I try not to. It would be my competitiveness and attack on the footy. As much as I am a defender I like to get it out as quick as possible as well.”

As for her improvements, Madigan is still “honing in” on her fundamentals further, though they have developed plenty since the inaugural year, becoming a more reliable user by hand or foot coming out of defence.

“Coming from a basketball background and not having those footy fundamentals from a young age just trying to get better at them and there’s always room to improve,” she said.

Last year en route to the premiership, Central District registered a league-high five players in the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year. Caitlin Wendland (since picked up by Brisbane), leading goalkicker Katelyn Rosenzweig, potential first round AFLW Draft hope Elaine Grigg, star midfielder and skipper Shelby Smith, and tucked into a back pocket, Madigan.

“I was so shocked honestly,” Madigan said. “I knew I had progressed and developed personally, but from a whole league stance there’s so many amazing defenders out there I didn’t picture myself in team of the year so that was really great.”

It gave the defender cause to look more seriously at the AFLW Draft, with the South Australian clubs starting to take notice, and a few others interstate also taking note. As it stood, Madigan opted to stay at home which also coincided with the most interest, but she was still unsure of how next Monday’s draft would go.

“You kind of hear in the media just talking about the younger girls and sort of thing so that does put doubt in my mind a little bit, but chatting to the SA clubs last year gives me a bit of hope,” Madigan said. “We’ll just wait and see what happens.”

Madigan credited her two coaches at Central District – Shaun Ribbons and more recently Ben Hunt – with her development over the years and being able to push her in their own individual ways, while naturally thanking her parents for their support in her pursuit of a new code.

“They’ve (parents) had a big influence,” Madigan said. “As soon as I wanted to say I wanted to play footy, they were right into it from the get-go. They were at all my games, really supportive, dad helps me with kicking in the backyard.”

Modelling her game on Collingwood’s Brayden Maynard with similar competitiveness, Madigan would love to showcase similar traits at the elite level, modelling it off relentless pressure and the “will to never give up”. While the draft is her ultimate goal, the defender said if that did not fall her way, she was still looking to taste more team success at SANFLW level.

“Over the next 12 months it would just be it would be great to go back-to-back with the flag,” Madigan said. “Thinking of that, if not then just progressing and developing my fundamentals, so seeing that in my kicking efficiency, disposal efficiency, that sort of thing would be nice to see that improve.”

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