Rookie James Madden (2019-)

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ZoBlitz

The Ghost Who Walks
Sep 20, 2004
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14,445
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Brisbane Lions
'It is a story of perseverance' - Former Dublin underage star set for AFL debut with Brisbane Lions

DUBLINER JAMES MADDEN is set to make his AFL debut for Brisbane Lions this weekend, named on the interchange bench for the Round 7 clash with Port Adelaide at the Gabba.

The 21-year-old signed for Brisbane in August 2018, after an impressive run with the Dublin minors and eye-catching outings at the AFL European Combine in UCD in December ’17 — there, he broke the the all-time AFL Draft Combine 20m sprint record — and at the the AFL Academy in Florida in January ’18, to which he was invited as a result.

Madden, of the Ballyboden St Enda’s club, was part of the Sky Blues’ 2017 Leinster minor title-winning side, who lost out to Derry in the All-Ireland semi-final. In the summer of ’18, he lined out at centre-forward for the U20 side that reached the Leinster football final.

In May 2019, he signed a contract extension Down Under, having first joined the club as a Category B international rookie on a two-year contract. That season, he began to learn his craft in the North East Australian Football League [NEAFL], playing 16 games for an undefeated side.

Now, Madden makes his AFL debut, his progression to his first senior game a testament to his determination and tireless work ethic to improve his fundamental skills and understanding of the game, says Lions head of development, Scott Borlace:

“It is a story of perseverance and I’m sure there has been the lure of going home at different times, but he has stuck at it and I’m rapt that he gets the chance to make his debut and I couldn’t be prouder of him.

“He obviously had his speed which is what attracted the club to draft him, but he is also really tough.

“For someone who comes from a sport where there’s not a lot of contact, he relishes the physical stuff and the contest so he will be hard to play against.”

Madden replaces Darcy Gardiner, who must miss this week under the AFL’s concussion protocols, and joins Rhys Mathieson as the two new faces to the side that beat Carlton by 18 points at Marvel Stadium in Round 6.

“One thing you can count on, James Madden will have a Craic,” the team announcement released by Brisbane reads.

“It will be a celebration for the Irish speedster when he makes his AFL debut for the Lions against Port Adelaide at the Gabba on Saturday.

“Having heard the hype around his blistering pace, Lions fans would be hoping to see the jet-heeled Dubliner put on the afterburners and leave an opponent in his wake.

“But his coaches and teammates are just as excited about his willingness to crack into the contest.”
 

ZoBlitz

The Ghost Who Walks
Sep 20, 2004
9,469
14,445
Brisbane/Melbourne
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Brisbane Lions
The Pluck Of The Irish

One thing you can count on, James Madden will have a Craic.

It will be a celebration for the Irish speedster when he makes his AFL debut for the Lions against Port Adelaide at the Gabba on Saturday.

Having heard the hype around his blistering pace, Lions fans would be hoping to see the jet-heeled Dubliner put on the afterburners and leave an opponent in his wake.

But his coaches and teammates are just as excited about his willingness to crack into the contest.

Madden comes into the side to replace Darcy Gardiner who must miss this week under the AFL’s concussion protocols.

He joins Rhys Mathieson as the two new faces to the side that accounted for Carlton by 18 points at Marvel Stadium in Round 6.

Mathieson replaces Brownlow medalist Lachie Neale who underwent ankle surgery on Monday.

However Senior Coach Chris Fagan said this week that the 24-year-old midfielder had demanded selection with a sustained run of strong form in the reserves, including an 18 possession, four goal masterclass, in just half a game against the Blues last week.

Madden caught the eye of the Lions recruiters when he broke the all-time AFL Draft Combine 20m sprint record at the European Combine in 2017.

The 21-year-old was recruited to the Club in the 2019 rookie draft and began to learn his craft in the NEAFL season where he played 16 games for the side that went through the season undefeated.

Lions head of Development Scott Borlace said Madden’s progression to his first senior game was a testament to his determination a tireless work ethic to improve his fundamental skills and understanding of the game.

“It is a story of perseverance and I’m sure there has been the lure of going home at different times, but he has stuck at it and I’m rapt that he gets the chance to make his debut and I couldn’t be prouder of him,’’ he said.

“He obviously had his speed which is what attracted the club to draft him, but he is also really tough.

“For someone who comes from a sport where there’s not a lot of contact, he relishes the physical stuff and the contest so he will be hard to play against.’’
 

ZoBlitz

The Ghost Who Walks
Sep 20, 2004
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Brisbane Lions
Madden Receives Ultimate Compliment

Brisbane's Irish flyer James Madden received the ultimate compliment in the player's race following his breakout performance against Richmond last Friday night.

Madden left the field after the Lions' 28-point victory and was greeted by AFL Legend Leigh Matthews.

"He said 'well done, James, you'll play a lot of games of AFL'," Madden recounted on Tuesday.

"It didn't really hit me until the next day when I thought about what he said.

"To come from someone like that it was pretty special.

"Before I came over here I didn't know too much about Leigh, as I didn't watch AFL, but after being here for three years I know how big a name he is in the sport, so it was incredibly special."

It capped an amazing night for Madden, who in just his second game was integral in a remodeled Lions backline that was missing injured duo Darcy Gardiner and Ryan Lester.

The 21-year-old defender announced himself with 13 disposals, including eight intercepts, two contested marks and a thrilling goal on the run in the third term.

It's been quite a rise for the man that broke the all-time AFL Combine record for the 20m sprint late in 2017.

Madden played gaelic football at the same Dublin club as Brownlow medalist Jim Stynes – Ballyboden St Enda – before being snapped up by Brisbane in 2018.

After playing NEAFL during his first season he then headed home early in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Twelve months ago Madden was in hotel quarantine having returned to Australia determined to see out his quest at making it as an AFL player.

"It's a massive difference to where I was then, sitting in a hotel," he said.

"I knew I wasn't going to play AFL that year and now I've played two games … it's definitely a big turnaround.

"I'd started this journey, I wanted to see it out.

"There were always thoughts that I'd never get there. I thought I'd just go home and play gaelic because it (AFL) is a really unforgiving sport.

"There were times when I thought I'd never make it, especially with our defenders being so good.

"We have a very good defensive side, so it was certainly a thing in the back of my mind."

Madden said the passing of Stynes drew his attention to how big the AFL was, but it was watching former Essendon speedster Conor McKenna that really piqued his interest.

"I've always got Ireland in my mind," he said.

"I'd love to go back and play Gaelic football one day, but at the moment I'm determined to keep going with AFL because I really enjoy it."
 

ZoBlitz

The Ghost Who Walks
Sep 20, 2004
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Jack and Jimmy... the Year That Was

James Madden and Jack Payne’s performances at senior level in 2021 would have given Coach Chris Fagan plenty of confidence he is well stocked for defensive options heading into next season.

Irishman Madden broke through for his AFL debut in 2021 and showed in his 9 senior appearances he has a bright future in the game.

Madden made a huge impression once he joined the team with his extreme pace adding a new element to the defence.

He even earned praise from Lions Legend Leigh Matthews after a breakout performance in the 28-point victory over Richmond at the Gabba in Rd 10.

The Lions three-peat premiership coach left Madden lost for words when he offered him some words of encouragement in the rooms after the game.

“He said 'well done, James, you'll play a lot of games of AFL'," Madden recounted.

"It didn't really hit me until the next day when I thought about what he said.

"To come from someone like that it was pretty special.’’

Madden looked right at home in just his second game, playing a key role in a restructured Lions backline that was missing injured duo Darcy Gardiner and Ryan Lester.

The 21-year-old defender gathered 13 disposals, including eight intercepts, two contested marks and finished his night’s work with a thrilling goal on the run in the third term.

His season’s best outing was a 16-possession effort against GWS while he also had strong games against St Kilda and North Melbourne.
 

On the quiet

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I like both of these young guys. Payne just looks tough, sustained some type of knee injury against the Hawkes that kept him out for a few weeks thereafter, but still managed to play the final Q and obtained 22 possessions (i know stats can be misleading) he did let in a couple of goals, just needs to eliminate that 20m nothing kick (pass), has pace, Look at the 1 v 1 contest against the Dogs (semi final) where he ends up split open. Jimmy is still raw but his speed puts pressure on the opposition, can tackle and he also can take an overhead mark. Arguably he can provide us with more overlap running. I hope both guys get a run at it next season.
 

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