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Essendon draftee had given up hope on AFL career


Essendon recruit Garrett McDonagh admits he had given up on his AFL dream only a few years ago.

The 25-year-old was selected by the Bombers with pick 50 in last week’s National Draft after attracting the interest of the red and black during his 2021 season with the Richmond VFL side.

List boss Adrian Dodoro said the club was close to selecting McDonagh in the Mid-Season Draft, when they instead settled for his Tigers VFL teammate Sam Durham. They eventually snapped him up late in the third round, adding another chapter to his story of perseverance.

McDonagh, who has worked as a plumber for the past six years, was overlooked in multiple drafts before trying his hand at American football punting.

He then sent several emails to 10 AFL clubs and invested in his body in a bid to have one last crack at the elite level.

“I gave up hope on my AFL career at the end of 2018,” he revealed on SEN Mornings.

“I broke my wrist and had a bit of time to myself, so I gave it up and went and did Prokick with Nathan Chapman. I just wanted a change up so I did that for a little bit.

“I took a bit of time off work and sat down and thought about what I really wanted to do with my life. I really wanted to give footy another crack, spent a little bit of money on my body and that’s where I thought I got the edge, with physio, chiro, pilates, a bit of yoga, and just getting my body right for VFL life.

“I think that has helped immensely with the way I prepare for my football.”

He admits that he was left disillusioned after waiting years for his name to be called out on draft night.

“It had been four times,” he added.

“There was a bit of an unknown at times where there were clubs talking, it got to draft night and my name didn’t get called.

“A few devastating years there, but it’s all worth it in the end.”

That all changed last Thursday when Ben Rutten, Dodoro and the Bombers came calling.

“I got a call during the day and Adrian said we might take you with our last pick, so I was expecting last pick being 74 or 75,” he said.

“Then I got a call from ‘Truck’ a minute before pick 50 and my girlfriend just looked at me and was in awe of it all.

“It was a great surprise to finally tell everyone.”

The West Preston-Lakeside premiership star says the tag of ‘AFL player’ has only just hit home over the last few days.

“I got into the club yesterday (Monday) and saw my name up on my locker and that’s when it really hit that I’m an Essendon footballer,” he concluded.

A raking left-footer, McDonagh played primarily in defence for the Tigers but has been earmarked for a two-way running wing role with the Dons.


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