2024 AFL Draft | Race to #1: Finn O’Sullivan

THERE is little that Finn O’Sullivan is yet to achieve in the AFL talent pathway, making him arguably the frontrunner in the race to be 2024’s top prospect. The Koroit native is already an Under 18 All-Australian and enters his draft year as one of the most accomplished juniors nationwide.

While other pick one contenders have their own unique traits and clear points of difference, O’Sullivan is the all-rounder of the group. He’s one of the rare talents with close to no genuine weaknesses and blends all elements of the game with aplomb, in each third of the ground.

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The cousin of Carlton star Sam Walsh shares similar traits in that aspect and in the sense that they’ve consistently dominated the junior levels. Among O’Sullivan’s accolades is the esteemed Kevin Sheehan Medal, which put him on the map during the 2022 Under 16 National Championships.

O’Sullivan, who earned a scholarship at Xavier College, is tied to Metropolitan region Oakleigh Chargers but represents Vic Country. He will also turn out for the National Academy this year in hopes of strengthening his hold on the number one mantle, with plenty more football to be played.

>> Race to #1: Sid Draper | Jagga Smith | Josh Smillie

Finn O'Sullivan

Height: 182cm

Weight: -

DOB: 30-05-2006


2023 Coates Talent League (8 games)
22.1 disposals, 4.8 marks, 4.0 tackles, 5.6 inside 50s, 0.1 goals

2023 AFL U18 National Championships (3 games)
16.7 disposals, 4.0 marks, 3.0 tackles, 3.7 inside 50s, 0.7 goals

>> Ones to watch: 24 AFL Draft prospects in 2024


+ Inside-outside balance
+ Kick penetration
+ Overhead marking
+ Decision making
+ Versatility
+ Toughness

O’Sullivan’s list of strengths is extensive, and truthfully extends past what is listed above. What stands out most is how good he is in so many areas, proving a natural and versatile footballer in every sense. In his primary post through midfield, that translates to an outstanding inside-outside balance.

The Country kid is typically tough in contested situations, but powerful enough to step into space and gain metres with his booming kick. At 181cm as of 2023, O’Sullivan is gutsy in aerial contests and quite clean overhead – at trait which can also be observed in his stoppage craft.

O’Sullivan’s decision making and poise make it look like he has plenty of time in possession, though he also has a deceptive turn of speed which also helps manufacture pockets of space. From there, he tends to make good decisions and brings others into the game by hand and foot.

His big game ability is another handy trait which was evident during last year’s Under 18 National Championships. It’s genuinely difficult to find glaring areas of improvement for O’Sullivan, who is a high level operator with an evenly spread radar chart of attributes.


“The pick one contender had a prominent game across four quarters, remaining involved through the midfield. With time and space, O’Sullivan can weight his kicks perfectly, be it in any third of the ground… His ball use and evasion really stand out wherever he plays.” – Peter Williams, 2023 AFL U17 Futures.

“O’Sullivan is incredibly well-rounded and showed few flaws on Sunday, hardly wasting a touch as he executed smart decisions and was hardly fazed by the heat of the contest. He has already shown the capacity to step up in vital moments at such a high level.” – Michael Alvaro, 2023 U18 National Championships.

“The bottom-aged midfielder showed composure and courage beyond his years… O’Sullivan constantly looked to take the game on as he played on quickly, or ran past to get a handball from a teammate in the same position, kicking smoothly to leading targets or switching to the other side of the ground.” – Declan Reeve, 2023 U18 National Championships.

Finn O’Sullivan in Vic Country colours | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

“He managed to showcase a few tricks, mostly in the kicking department with a running torpedo punt and a terrific goal from long-range in the first quarter. The bottom-ager’s booming boot was a constant feature along with his decision making, ability to cover ground, and overhead marking prowess.” – Michael Alvaro, 2023 Talent League Round 17.

“He has a deceptive amount of burst speed and can weave in and out of traffic with sharp steps, but also does the tough stuff. He laid five tackles and made each one stick, while also proving gutsy in his overhead marking attempts.” – Michael Alvaro, 2023 Talent League Round 4.

“O’Sullivan was the best player afield, and at times it was hardly close… He would often get a handball receive and set off, being the one to either deliver inside 50 or look to hit up a pass to half-forward. He set the tone for his side and would have been a great source of inspiration as co-captain.” – Michael Alvaro, 2022 U16 National Championships.


With so few weak spots in his game, it is difficult to pinpoint the areas of growth which would help level O’Sullivan with his peers. Perhaps his flair and scoreboard impact could be enhanced, though he has shown a knack for popping up with important goals. Other midfielders in the 2024 class may also accumulate more possessions, so matching the same kind of numbers would only further justify his position – in our eyes – as the nation’s top talent. Still, he’s so consistent across the board.


– 2024 AFL Academy
– 2023 U18 All Australian
– 2023 Vic Country U18 representative
– 2023 Talent League Team of the Year
– 2022 U16 Kevin Sheehan Medalist
– 2022 U16 All Australian
– 2022 Vic Country U16 MVP
– 2022 Vic Country U16 co-captain

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