It’s easy to forget Andrew McGrath has just completed only his third AFL season. The classy youngster was terrific again in 2019, thriving on greater opportunities up the ground after performing brilliantly predominantly as a defender in his first two seasons.
Spending more time on the ball saw McGrath claim career-high season averages for disposals, contested possessions, inside 50s, clearances, goals and goal assists this year in a sign of what lies ahead for the rising star.
His ability to hit the scoreboard during brief stints in the forward line was also another positive sign for his development, while his toughness in the contest and class on the outside was clear to see again.
His impressive season was rewarded with his third consecutive selection in the AFLPA 22Under22 team.
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Average disposals: 21
Average inside 50s: 2.4
Average rebound 50s: 1.9
Average clearances: 1.6
McGrath was a shining light for the Bombers against the Eagles in their disappointing elimination final last week, displaying his exciting best.
His clean ball handling and purposeful use of the Sherrin were impressive as he repeatedly used his elite athleticism to work his way out of trouble and drive the ball forward.
He finished with 30 disposals, six score involvements, five inside 50s, four rebound 50s, four clearances and a goal in a strong display of class and leadership.
There were plenty of great moments to choose from, but McGrath’s crucial goal in the dying stages of the third term against Adelaide in round 18 gets the nod.
Having dragged back the margin from 30 points to just six, the Bombers were on a roll at Adelaide Oval in what would turn out to be a stirring victory.
With just over a minute remaining in the third quarter, powerful Bomber Jake Stringer shook off three opponents to set off a brilliant chain, with star forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti eventually gathering the ball inside 50.
McDonald-Tipungwuti then sold his opponent some candy before classily dishing it off to McGrath to finish off the play and draw the scores level.
Now with three valuable seasons of AFL football under his belt, McGrath can only be expected to continue to improve next year.
More opportunities in the guts should see the young gun’s midfield craft grow, while his impressive leadership is also set to further develop as he gains more and more experience.