By Ant Wingard
2019 in a nutshell
University of Queensland were impressive in 2019 despite missing the finals by the slimmest of margins. Like Coolangatta Tweed, the Red Lions found themselves in a log jam heading into the final round but ultimately missed the finals by a lone win to finish fifth on the season. The side enjoyed a purple patch between Rounds 5 and 9 where they won four of five games while the second half of the season saw them play in a number of the season’s most enthralling games including their five-point loss to Coorparoo in Round 11, the ten-point thriller in Pride Round against Yeronga and the Round 14 clash with Maroochydore which saw them prevail by just three points. The Red Lions had three players feature in the QAFLW Team of the Year with Megan Hunt (forward), Nat Grider (follower) and Bree Koenen (half-back) all named.
What’s new in 2020?
While UQ returned to their own oval in mid-2019 after more than a season of ground sharing, their oval will be out of action until Round 7 meaning the Red Lions will play their opening six fixtures on the road. Following Round 7 however, they then face just one trip away for the remainder of the season. Over the offseason, the Red Lions also opened their new facility ‘the pavilion’ at the oval in what was a momentous occasion for the club. Lee Whitehorn will return to coach the side and will be joined by Brooks Mustey in the coaching ranks.
Sara-Jane O’Grady (Brothers AFC)
Following the NAB Under 18 AFLW National Championships last July, O’Grady linked up with UQ in the second half of the season where she played four games. Now, O’Grady returns for a full campaign with the side as she hopes to build on a strong 2018. She is a reliable, consistent defender with exceptional closing speed.
Shae Adams (Coolangatta Tweed)
Adams has yet to play a QAFLW game over the past three seasons, but returns to the competition where she began in the Queensland state league, to link up with the Red Lions. Previously, she played 14 games for Coolangatta Tweed in their premiership winning 2016 year but found herself between the club’s QAFLW and QFAW sides. Still, she played the majority of the season in the seniors and booted eight goals.
Lily Quinlan (Eastlake)
Quinlan joins the Red Lions after impressing for Eastlake in the UNSW Canberra Regional Women’s competition in 2019. She played all 14 games for the Demons last season in what was her first year at senior level. Now in the Sunshine state, Quinlan will be hoping to take that step up and compete with the Red Lions.
2020 will be a hit if…
They can win close games. The Red Lions played in more than one thriller last season but only won once in their three games decided by ten points on less. Given they were so close to making the top four last term, any ability to grind out a close win could be the difference they need to make the leap and join the competition’s frontrunners atop the ladder.
2020 will be a miss if…
They can’t win away from home. As we know, the Red Lions face a difficult opening stretch this season given their ground availability which could make things difficult. The Red Lions have always been a consistent performer in recent years and will almost ensure they win at least one of their opening six games. However, in an absolute doomsday scenario, if they can’t muster the strength to win away from St Lucia, playing catchup against the competition could be disastrous for their hopes of returning to the finals.