It’s been a whirlwind six months for Geelong recruit Shaun Mannagh.
Having been overlooked in a number of drafts, Mannagh continued to show his wares for Werribee in the Victorian Football League.
Strong performance after strong performance followed. A best on ground performance in a losing grand final last year, which included six goals, put him on the radar of AFL clubs if he wasn’t already.
Early on night two of the draft, Geelong read Mannagh’s name out at pick 36, to see his dream become a reality.
“Me and my wife moved down two weeks ago,” he said. “We are fully immersed in the community, it feels real now.
“I got held back a bit before Christmas, it’s feeling a lot more real now and it’s been quite enjoyable to be honest.”
Looking back on the last six months, Mannagh said there’s parts of him that can believe what happened and other parts that are still stunned.
He said all the hard work he had put in over the years had paid off. He said there was a little bit of doubt that he would get his chance after missing out so many times.
“It’s nice to be in the system,” he said. “I have put a lot of hard work in to get here.
“I’ve strived to be in the system for a long time. I’m excited for the experience and hopefully I’ll earn my first game and go from there.
“I didn’t lose belief and I keep turning up and having good games and seasons at Werribee.”
Mannagh spent four years at Werribee after joining the club ahead of the 2020 season, which was cancelled.
He had spent three seasons with Richmond’s VFL list before that.
Mannagh said he wouldn’t have achieved what he had, if it wasn’t for Werribee.
“I wouldn’t be the person or player I am had I not been in Werribee, not just the coaches and the players, but the likes of Mark Penaluna, Mark Micallef pushed me in my career,” he said.
“They kept persisting and preserving and I can’t get back there and cheer them on, I’m still good mates with them.”
Werribee had a season to remember last year, winning 17 games in a row on the way to the grand final.
While they fell short in the grand final, Mannagh said thy look back on the season proudly.
“I had a conversation with one of the boys the other day,” he said. “It might not happen again, winning 17 in a row.
“You look back to the pre-season and some of the earlier games and the hard work. It was more about the journey than the end product. There were so many great moments and we became closer than ever.
“It was a special team, very proud.”
Mannagh said he was enjoying getting into pre-season with the Cats and adjusting to life as a full time footballer.
He admits that it’s a step up from the VFL, but having played against many AFL players the last few years, he’s confident his ability will stack up.
Mannagh’s next aim now is to make his senior debut. He doesn’t have to look too far for inspiration, with the Cats known for backing in mature age recruits.
“Tom Atkins, Tom Stewart are a couple,” he said. “Tom Stewart will go down as one of the Cats greatest of all time.
“I’m a little bit older, but I have the belief I can have a long career. I think I can make the step up.
“I’m trying to play as early as I can. We have a couple of practice matches coming up, hopefully I can play them, or I’ll bide my time and make an impact when I get out there.”