Brisbane Lion grabs her AFLW second chance
EMERGING Brisbane Lions ruck Jessy Keeffe didn't have to look far for inspiration when it came to her footy aspirations.
Older brother Lachie Keeffe has carved out a 10-year career in the AFL, initially with Collingwood and now the GWS Giants, after taking up the game late.
Equally raw when entering the elite level, both siblings have endured similar stop-start journeys - drafted, delisted, and redrafted.
Lachies helped the Giants to their first grand final last year after being let go by the Magpies.
Jessy, meanwhile, has become integral to the Lions' push for the 2020 flag after given a second chance on the list.
"He's had his ups and downs ... pretty similar to me, not being able to get as many games as I would've liked in the early stages," Jessy said.
"(But) we have similar personalities, in the way we take it on the chin and keep chipping away.
"We understand that it's part of the sport.
"He's had a massive impact on my career. His opinion on a lot of footy-related stuff really helps me ... tactics, the emotional side of it, a bit of everything."
Jessy admits footy "wasn't a huge part of our lives growing up in Gympie".
"As Dad would always say ... we didn't even know how to spell AFL," she recalled.
"But watching him (Lachie) was pretty cool. That's the main reason I wanted to get into it."
Jessy would later see the Melbourne v Bulldogs women's exhibition games on TV - the forerunner to the establishment of the AFLW.
"It was a mix of some of the Queensland girls, Victorian girls, bit of everywhere," she said.
"That was pretty exciting to watch. I was pretty keen to get into it.
"I Googled 'football in Brisbane' and the first one (club) that popped up was Yeronga. I rocked up to training, not knowing anyone ... it went from there."
The 186cm Keeffe impressed with her athleticism and want for the contest in the WQAFL, playing alongside established Lions such Emily Bates and Sam Virgo.
"Sam had a big involvement in getting me drafted, staying behind at training with me, helping with anything she possibly could," Keeffe said.
"I didn't have too much footy ability. My fitness and work rate was the biggest thing I had."
Drafted for the second year of the AFLW in 2018, but not playing a game, Keeffe was then delisted but relisted by the Lions for 2019, when she would make her debut.
"I was lucky to get a second year," she said.
In 2020, she has been the Lions' No.1 ruck in their wins over Adelaide and Geelong.
"It definitely helps having some pretty elite players around you, especially in the midfield like Ally Anderson and Emily Bates," she said.
"It's pretty cool to know that I've kind of got my spot in the team now. I feel like I've earnt it."
The Lions will take on the Suns on Saturday in the first AFLW QClash at Metricon Stadium, with Keeffe against several former Lions teammates including mentor Virgo.
"Watching their games the last couple of weeks, they have just gone on in leaps and bounds," Keefe said.
"With the way they go about their footy, with their aggression. It will not be an easy match."