DRAFT ANALYSIS: “Possessing smarts and ball winning ability, Mahony has long been touted as one of the leading small midfielders in this year’s crop.”
WHILE big-bodied and athletic midfielders seem to be the in-vogue archetype for recruiters in the modern game, Sandringham’s Jack Mahony proved this year that smaller, creative types can have just as much of an impact through the engine room. Touted as a high-end prospect from as early as his Under-16 year, Mahony has consistently performed for the Dragons when available, while also proving a match winner for Vic Metro and school side, St Kevin’s. His year was cut short after undergoing surgery on his hand, but Mahony was able to recover just in time for the National Combine to serve another reminder of his talents in the run-in to November’s draft. The final on-field glimpse we got of Mahony was one which stuck in the memory, with his 19 disposals and three goals against the Allies very nearly dragging Vic Metro over the line to end a sub-par carnival. His combination of shrewd winning, spread from the contest, and crafty use going forward make him relevant in many ways, with the potential to continue as a midfielder or become a forward flanker absolutely there.
The final quarter of Vic Metro’s clash with the Allies is enough to get the best idea of Mahony’s talents, showcasing his creativity, work rate and ability to rise for the big moments. The St Kevin’s graduate is as clever as anyone when in possession forward of centre, opting for high-risk lateral balls, pin-pointing targets on the lead, and providing well for teammates running into space. His own goal sense is also strong, able to prove as much with more exposed form up forward during the National Championships to average a goal per game. Still, much of Mahony’s best work was done at the centre bounces and stoppages, using his agility to wiggle free from traffic and work into space to release a kick. He does not win crazy amounts of ball, but is more the type of player to be effective with each touch. On the flip side, his contested possession rate is great for a player standing at 177cm and 71kg, hovering around the 40 per cent mark across all levels and proving his midfield worth. His work rate – which a 20.8 yo-yo test score does not do justice to – is also admirable, meaning Mahony can provide that run all day and possibly translate it to an outside role despite not being overly athletic.
That lack of explosiveness is Mahony’s biggest area for improvement. He would be a shoe-in for more forward time if he were a touch quicker, with his agility and smarts boding well for the small forward role. That agility is also just enough to keep him out of trouble in midfield, but Mahony could benefit from improving his speed over short bursts – highlighted by a 20m sprint time of over 3.1 seconds. He is still deceptively good overhead for his size and has the courage to contest in the air, but has the lighter build to suit more of a running type despite his inside capabilities. His odd mix of traits make him hard to nail down in terms of position at the next level, but if clubs can look past his size, he would be an elite midfield candidate. Likened to Richmond’s Jack Higgins, Mahony could do worse than to model his game on that kind of midfielder/forward.
DRAFT RANGE: 25-50