With Jack Mahony having been a mainstay in the North Melbourne team when fit, it can be easy to forget that North’s number 1 is in just his second season of AFL football with less than 25 games under his belt.
Taken with the 34th pick in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft, the 19-year old often flies under the radar, but his improvement over the course of the 2021 season has been noticeable.
Increasing his averages for disposals, marks, goals, tackles, clearances and score involvements in 2021, Mahony says his improvement can be attributed to the consistent opportunities he’s being afforded at senior level.
“It’s a massive thing getting the respect from coaches to have a spot week in, week out. [It] just gives me massive confidence to go out there and play my role,” Mahony told North Media.
“There’s always something to learn from every week … just the experience of playing out most weeks on the AFL stage has been super for me.
“We’ve been in some really close games, so it’s just learning from being in those close games and how we can perform under pressure to play our roles.”
Whether it be Luke McDonald playing on the wing, Aaron Hall playing in defence or Kayne Turner playing in midfield, versatility is an attribute David Noble is looking to build into most players on North’s list.
Mahony is no different. Having come into the club as a half-forward flanker, he’s been spending time on the wing throughout various stages of the season.
“Predominantly I play as a small forward that gets high up the ground, try and bring the pressure and then able to connect the ball through midfield,” he said.
“It’s always been a focus as a small forward to try and get the crumbs at the feet of Nick Larkey or Tristan Xerri who were providing great contests on the weekend.
“In recent weeks, it’s been good to get up the ground and play on some stars of the competition which has been really nice, just using my pace and foot skills across the full ground.”
With two wins and a draw over the course of the season, North’s win column doesn’t reflect the feeling of positivity and motivation currently present at the football club.
Mahony says the youthful exuberance of North’s current playing group is showing great signs not just for the present, but also the future.
“Playing with such a young group is exciting, everyone gets up and about, it’s a really cohesive unit … our whole forward line is pretty much under the age of 25,” he said.
“We didn’t have much success last year and we’ve probably improved on that this year despite the win tally not being as high as we’d like it.
“The energy is super high, we’re competitive most weeks and the energy throughout the club is just infectious.”