CARLTON assistant coach Brad Fisher put it best: “surreal”.
Joanne Doonan celebrating her first game and win last Friday night, impressing in her debut against Richmond in front of over 15,000 people.
With Doonan lining up in the forward line at Ikon Park, Fisher knew the exact situation she was in — even though their journeys couldn’t have been any different.
“To see her run out, you think of how long it takes everyone else, the amount of years they put into AFL footy in order to get there and run out,” Fisher said.
“She’s doing it within being in the country for a couple of months: it’s pretty surreal and I look forward to her doing a lot more.”
Doonan made her way to the Blues as part of the CrossCoders program at the beginning of September.
Fisher was full of praise for the Irish recruit’s hard work over the pre-season, who worked her way into her first game well.
“She’s had an unbelievable pre-season I think for any player, playing their first official game at the highest possible level. It was a massive effort,” he said.
“I was pretty excited when I first saw her video of the work she was doing playing Gaelic footy back in Ireland. She just stays on the move and that’s a pretty good start point for a half forward, to be getting around the ground as much as she does.”
Having moved across the world to fulfil her dream of playing AFLW, Doonan has put countless time and effort in to be the best she can be.
Fisher believes the 25-year-old is only just getting started.
“Her attitude is unbelievable: she’s just keen to be as good as she can be and as fast as she can,” he said.
“I know our message to her a few times has been is just to be patient, to understand she has come from a totally different game — but she’s not really interested in that.
“She just wants to go a million miles an hour. Deep down, we love that quality about her.”
Despite just starting out at her new team, it hasn’t stopped Doonan - who captained the Fermanagh Galies Athletic Association Ladies team - from bringing her leadership to the table.
She has become a vocal part of the Game Changers’s locker room, using her experience to help her teammates.
“She’s been a leader where she’s from, she’s a little bit older than the typical new player or debutant,” he said.
“She’s keen to pass on the athletic knowledge she has. You can see she has been a wonderful leader in Ireland and it won’t take long before she sees that role for her here as well.”
As line coach for the forwards, Fisher has spent many months working alongside Doonan, teaching and preparing her for the game of AFLW.
“You grow to love these girls pretty quickly, especially those that give it everything they’ve got. She certainly does that.”
It all starts again when Carlton take on Collingwood this Sunday at Ikon Park - Find all the game-day information here