Abbie McKay at Carlton training. Image Source: carltonfc.com.au

She's one of the most improved players in the competition. What is behind Abbie McKay's breakout AFLW season?

The AFLW’s first ever Father- Daughter recruit Abbie McKay has revealed that it was the COVID shutdown that was the catalyst to her breakout season in AFLW.

When Melbourne went into isolation when the pandemic struck, McKay had a moment to pause and recognize it was one to seize.

After making her debut in her first season, McKay didn’t feature at AFLW level in 2020 and didn’t play any football at all due to the pandemic.

With more time to do extras and better herself, the Carlton midfielder was determined to make the extended break the off-season of her life and work hard to earn a spot in Daniel Harford’s best team.

Now, McKay is one of the most improved players at the Blues, and across the competition enjoying a breakout season.

Averaging 8.5 contested possessions a game, 5 tackles a game, playing as an inside midfielder, and doubling her average disposal count per game, McKay has cemented herself in Carlton’s midfield as a key part of their young on-ball brigade.

” it deffinelty feels like abit of hard work paying off” McKay told The Inner Sanctum.

“During COVID, it actually was quite good for me. I had a bit more time to go out and do an extra running session or go out and kick the footy with my dad and my brother and change other bits and pieces of my lifestyle if COVID wasn’t a thing”

Plenty of encouragement and support from teammates and family have spurred McKay on to get to the level she is at now. Former Carlton premiership player and father Andrew, joined Abbie for running sessions during the shutdown and push her further along her journey.

“During COVID dad would come and do the running sessions with me. He’s a much better runner than me so he’d push me to go that little bit faster and a little bit further” she said.

“When it gets around to game day he’s just Dad, and he loves it”

All the work, all the hours, all the extras. All in a time that McKay is thankful for having to better and develop herself.

It all hasn’t gone unnoticed by Daniel Harford and his coaching staff who has picked and pigeonholed McKay into key roles across every game this season.

“Not only is it putting me on big names but also, the little things like in training and him telling me that he thinks I’m good enough to be there, its all really encouraging,” she said

The Blues face Fremantle in a must win game on Sunday at Ikon Park. Despite the up and down season, McKay says the group are feeling confident and are ready for the task ahead of them to finish the season strongly.

“We know we basically have to win every game going forward to make it to the finals, but we’re all pretty pumped for the challenge,” She said.

“We want to make sure we’re on from the very beginning. Our transition is something we have really been focusing on the last few weeks going from attack to defence and back”

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