Making it onto an AFLW list is an extraordinary achievement in itself. 

But it’s another thing entirely to grow up on the other side of the world – with no idea of the sport’s existence – and then secure a place on St Kilda’s inaugural women’s list. 

Incredibly, that’s exactly what Clara Fitzpatrick did after moving to Melbourne at the end of 2016. 

What started as a career break from work and a chance to travel the world turned into permanent residency in Melbourne, and then, a senior spot with the Saints after just three years down under.

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Her life motto sums it up: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. 

Originally coming from a small, but Gaelic football-mad village called Bryansford – a sport which she’d played from the moment she could walk – Fitzpatrick was introduced to Aussie Rules in Ireland through a friend. 

“It started through a girl I used to play Gaelic football with at university,” Fitzpatrick said. 

“She was promoting AFL in Ireland – she was an Irish girl and I think she’d been to Australia and played the sport before and she loved it.” 

That love soon found Fitzpatrick, who played in two international tournaments in England and Portugal before packing up her bags a few months later in November 2016 for some time abroad. 

Fast-forward a whirlwind few years, and she’s part of the club’s inaugural women’s side. 

The physiotherapist’s unexpected stay in Australia was never meant to kick off a professional AFL career, but it wasn’t long before the journey began to take off. 

After a stint at Melbourne University where she “didn’t really have a clue” what she was doing, the code convert joined the Southern Saints in 2019. 

Fitzpatrick became a force in the backline, stamping her importance to the red, white and black almost immediately. 

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The key defender finished in the top-10 for the club’s best-and-fairest last season, with her 180cm frame and strong marking vital to the Saints’ success.

An elevation to the senior list alongside Poppy Kelly quickly followed. 

Just last fortnight, Fitzpatrick played superbly on Carlton superstar Tayla Harris in the Saints’ first hit-out as a team, significantly limiting the Blue’s influence on the contest. 

Now, there’s a chance she could be running out onto RSEA Park in St Kilda’s maiden match on Sunday 9 February. 

It’s already been an incredible journey; one with zero certainty as to where she’d end up, what she’d achieve or how far she could take this thing called Australian Rules football. 

But as Clara says, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.