Tara Bohanna’s three goal final quarter didn’t surprise those who’ve been following her career along since her first AFLW draft nomination six years ago.
After she kicked her first AFLW goal for Gold Coast against GWS on debut, it looked like a fairly quiet follow-up act for the VFLW battler with a goalless three quarters against West Coast.
But the former Southern Saint sprung to life and helped to mount a comeback for the ages, leaving every jaw hanging wide at Whitten Oval.
One of those believers is teammate Ali Drennan, who played with Bohanna at the Saints, and now rooms with her on the Gold Coast.
She celebrated alongside Bohanna as she joined the club as a replacement player selection alongside Essendon’s Alana Barba.
Her evolution as a player is one Drennan knew had been a long time coming.
“When we first started footy… back then I used to kick it right up in the air, I was terrible, she [Bohanna] used to pluck them out of the sky,” Drennan told The Inner Sanctum.
“She’s got a great pair of hands, and she’s always had such a natural kick on her. I wasn’t surprised, I was expecting her to do really well this season.”
It came as a welcome surprise for Cameron Joyce’s Suns, who’d battled through scoring hardships under David Lake in 2021.
Gold Coast only kicked five goals once last season, but came home hard with five goals in the final quarter against West Coast.
While Joyce says his side has now set the standard for itself, Drennan is seeing firsthand just how Bohanna has changed their forward structure.
“We were looking for people this year to kick goals,” Drennan said.
“Her stepping up is just what I thought would happen!”
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Bohanna played 16 VFLW games last year as a true tall utility, averaging 16 disposals, 4.4 marks, 3.7 tackles, 7.2 hit outs, and kicking 19 goals.
This included a standout effort in the elimination final against Port Melbourne, where she led from the front with two goals, six marks and 20 disposals.
Drennan even got the opportunity to come up against her in form teammate in Round 9, after returning to play with Hawthorn, Bohanna (two goals) and the Saints taking the spoils.
“I honestly don’t think she’s doing anything different, that’s always been her game,” Drennan explained.
“She’s always had that capability. She just needed someone to give her a go. It’s just so exciting to see people believe in her talent, and go ‘she’s hungry, let’s give her a go’.
“I know she’d been training really, really hard over the pre-season and putting in extra work so that her skills get even more refined. To see it all pay off, and especially when we needed the win, it’s just massive.
“I cannot believe she didn’t get picked up [in the 2021 draft], I’m just baffled.”
Drennan had a lot of pressure on her shoulders in 2021, after making the move from St Kilda.
With the likes of Jacqui Yorston and Jamie Stanton out of action through injury, she often became the number one midfield option, copping the most attention from opposition.
While Drennan embraced the challenge, notching up career high statistics for disposals and tackles throughout the year, it was clear she couldn’t do it all herself.
But after “enjoying” her time spent with Hawthorn in the VFLW and returning to Queensland, it’s been a very different Gold Coast engine room.Embed from Getty Images
Stanton’s return has been a seamless one, standing up hugely in the second quarter against West Coast. Charlie Rowbottom earned a rising star nomination for her huge 12-tackle effort.
“It makes it easier for me to get some ball on the outside and use some run,” Drennan said.
“It just feels really different, it’s really exciting. It let’s me use what I’m good at… this year we’ve really got some good players. We can start to connect.
“We haven’t played that much together yet. Once we start playing a couple of games together and get that connection, I’m really excited to see where it takes us.”
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