Q&A: Isabella McDonough (Lions Academy)

BRISBANE Lions Academy talent Isabella McDonough was one of the most impressive players through the Lions Academy’s Coates Talent League Girls’ stint this season. The strong midfielder who can play both inside or on the wing and even up forward, played all four goals and kicked three against the Calder Cannons in an impressive win.

Across the course of the four games, McDonough averaged 20.3 disposals, 2.8 marks, 4.5 inside 50s and a whopping 11.0 tackles. We spoke to the top-ager in the preseason about her football journey, goals and gamestyle, with her love for tackling no secret.

Q: Isabella, tell us a bit about your footy journey and how you got started?

IM: “I started about six years ago. I have been playing a lot of other sports before AFL. I played netball, Oz-Tag, rugby league and I was very interested in netball and I was trying to make reps and everything and I was just too small so my height was a bit of an issue when everyone was getting taller and I was a goal shooter who wasn’t very tall. Then I had to pick a different sport, so I thought let’s try AFL and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Q: Apart from the height, what were the reasons for you choosing footy and sticking with it?

IM: “It was a growing sport and we’ve always been interested in the NRL and the AFL and it was just one of the sports I hadn’t tried yet. I had played Sunshine Coast in school for it and I sort of liked it, and I was like ‘you know what, let’s just give it a go’.”

Q: You’ve had a number of Brisbane AFLW players coaching you. For you, having the visual and the experience to learn off, how has that been for your own development?

IM: “Honestly it’s a bit surreal seeing all these players that you see on TV and winning premierships. It’s a great opportunity and I’ve actually been given this opportunity to be coached by them, It’s been awesome and I’ve learnt so much off them.”

Q: In terms of your own game where do you expect to play and what are some of the things you’re good at?

IM: “I love being in the mids, I love being amongst the contest. I love to run and I don’t mind going a bit at centre half-forward still being in the contest. My favourite thing to do is tackling and I reckon it’s my biggest asset on field. I just like being aggressive towards the ball and players.”

Q: What are some of the things you’re still working on?

IM: “Definitely my positioning on field because I run so much, I’m always late to a contest sometimes and I want to work on being in the best position to get the ball next, so just thinking a few steps ahead.”

Q: Do you have any mentors or players you look up to in order to gain inspiration from?

IM: “Sophie Conway from the Lions is my favourite. I reckon how aggressive she is towards the ball and her tackling ability. I reckon she makes the best decisions out of the field, so I look up to her a lot.”

Q: Did you grow up as a Lions supporter as well?

IM: “Just being from Brisbane, following the AFL and being from Brisbane, I just always supported the Lions and having the females come into it, they’re my team.”

Q: Do you have any goals set up for the year?

IM: “I want to get drafted, that’s the biggest goal. That’s long-term. I want to just be in the best shape I’ve ever been in, this is my draft year and I want to make the best opportunity for myself to get drafted.”

Q: Have you thought about where you want to end up, are you set on staying here or do you want to explore?

IM: “I reckon I’m going to go national. I’m willing to go anywhere to play national. I’d love to stay in Brisbane, I’m quite set up here, everyone’s here, my whole family, but I probably will go national but I’d love to stay.”

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