Paul Ahern (Calder Cannons)
Height: 181 cm
Weight: 77 kg
Strengths: Vision, composure, x-factor, anticipation, balance, acceleration, creativity, influence
Weaknesses: Strength, tackling
Player comparison: Steele Sidebottom
Paul Ahern is a composed and damaging midfielder with the ability to create opportunities in pressure situations and congestion and hit the scoreboard consistently.
Ahern has been a strong performer for Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup this season, averaging 17.4 disposals at 64.9 per cent efficiency, 3.5 marks, and 1.9 tackles in his 11 appearances thus far. While his statistics don’t jump out on paper, it’s his ability to use his poise and vision in traffic that has draft watchers talking. Additionally, Ahern is a pure goal kicking midfielder, having hit the scoreboard in nine out of his 11 TAC cup appearances this year with 12 goals to his name overall.
Ahern is naturally an outside player and in 2013 he played mostly as a wingman, but in 2014 he has taken his game to a new level and developed to enable him to win the contested ball. This has been a prominent feature of his NAB under 18’s Carnival where he amassed 39 contested possessions in five outings for Vic Metro. This roundness to his game, in addition to his poise and influence to dispose with the ball under pressure, has Ahern positioned to be selected in the first round of the 2014 draft.
Overall Ahern starred for Vic Metro this year, averaging 17 possessions at 73 per cent efficiency and nailing seven goals in five games. As such he was awarded with a selection in the 2014 Under-18 All Australian team.
What Ahern will provide an AFL club is the flexibility to play as either an inside ball getter or as an outside runner. On the outside, he has the pace, skills, polish and finishing skills to be damaging forward of centre. He’s the sort of player who consistently lowers his eyes and waits for the opportune moment to accurately hit up a teammate inside the forward 50.
He’s also a player that can provide some x-factor and has the ability with his one-touch skills to pull off the spectacular. Whether it is taking a high flying contested mark and bombing a goal from outside 50 against the top-of-the-table Oakleigh Chargers, or putting the ball onto the outside of his boot under pressure on the boundary to slot a goal against Western Australia, Ahern has the tools in his bag to keep his opponent on their toes.
When you hear people talk about footballers who appear to have more time than others when they are in possession of the ball; that is the type of talent and skill that Ahern exudes in spades. Ultimately, it’s his classy finishing skills and AFL ready ability to anticipate the play and open his vision to spot up and hit targets that will have all AFL clubs interested in this dynamic and polished midfielder from the Calder Cannons.