Garrett McDonagh has proven it is never too late to chase your dream, with the 25-year-old West Preston-Lakeside premiership star making his way to Essendon in the 2021 AFL draft.
McDonagh was the surprise selection of the draft, with most pundits caught off guard when the Bombers used selection 50 on the raking left-footer.
However, McDonagh’s is a name that has long been highly regarded throughout the NFNL community.
The rebounding defender has been one of the key figures in West Preston-Lakeside’s rise to the top of the Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 summit in recent years.
He was a member of the Roosters’ back-to-back premierships in 2018 and 2019 and was just pipped for best on ground honours in the 2019 grand final win over Greensborough.
McDonagh began his journey with West Preston-Lakeside in the Under-9s back in 2003 and quickly established himself as a star of the future.
He represented the NFNL at the AFL Victoria Metro Representative games at both Under-14 and Under-15 levels and at just 16 years of age was best afield in West Preston-Lakeside’s 2012 reserves grand final win over Montmorency.
McDonagh soon made his way to the Northern Knights and played 32 games in the TAC Cup throughout the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
He played five VFL games for the Northern Blues in 2015 and two for Coburg in 2016, before returning to West Preston-Lakeside where he became a vital component in the club’s meteoric rise under Rob Maiorana.
— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) November 25, 2021
Despite being overlooked on several occasions, McDonagh refused to give up on his AFL dream.
He trialled with Richmond’s VFL team ahead of the 2020 season and was added to the Tigers’ squad, only for the campaign to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, McDonagh persisted and became a regular member of the club’s line-up in 2021, featuring in all but one of Richmond’s ten VFL games and finishing sixth in the Tigers’ best and fairest.
He also made one appearance for West Preston-Lakeside during the 2021 season and was best afield in the club’s 66-point win over Whittlesea at the Whittlesea Showgrounds.
Speaking to Essendon’s website, general manager of list and recruiting Adrian Dodoro said McDonagh had the ability to have an instant impact in the AFL.
“Garrett is player who deserves an opportunity,” Dodoro said.
“We felt he was one of the better ready-made players in the pool this year. Even though he’s 25 years of age, we think he’s got a lot of football left in him.
“He’s an elite left-foot kick and has fantastic endurance. We’re looking forward to him playing a lot of senior football for us.”
The NFNL congratulates Garrett on his selection in the 2021 AFL Draft and wishes him the best of luck throughout his AFL career.
We also acknowledge all those at West Preston-Lakeside who have been part of Garrett’s journey to the AFL.