AFLW star Purcell relishing time at Demons

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Olivia Purcell thought she would struggle to play football in 2022.

But those fears have proven unfounded as the Melbourne star midfielder prepares for her second AFLW Grand Final in seven months.

In a bizarre quirk of the women’s season pushed into an August-November window, the Demons will quickly have a chance to redeem themselves for their loss to Adelaide in the April decider.

Purcell has made a huge impact since moving from Geelong to the Demons before last season, taking home ground honors with a superb performance in Melbourne’s final victory three weeks ago.

After rupturing her ACL in February 2021, the 22-year-old kept her ambitions on the ground following the Cats move.

However, Purcell’s recovery went better than expected and she was able to play six games, including the grand final, in what would be the first of two campaigns in 2022.

“I didn’t even know if I would play last season,” Purcell, who got his second All-Australian jacket on Tuesday, told AAP.

“Playing the last games and then playing the finals was a pretty crazy experience in itself.

“It shows how well the club deals with players who have long-term injuries.

“I feel like my rehabilitation has prepared me pretty well for this season.

“I felt like I didn’t really expect last season because I knew I was coming back from injury.

“Once we found out we were going to play another season, I felt like it was a good time to have a good chance again.”

Melbourne will enter Sunday’s grand final against the Brisbane Lions as underdogs with the grand final to be played at their opponent’s new Springfield complex.

The Demons edged out the Lions in last season’s preliminary round but lost to the Queensland club in their last battle in September.

Purcell believes Melbourne’s experience in their Grand Final loss to the Crows will stand them in good stead this time around.

“I think it’s a very good experience to have because we still have a young group and it was the first real grand final experience,” she said.

“We didn’t deserve to win it.

“So to go through this loss and feel like I’m still trying to remember throughout the season what it feels like.

“When I play there too, I don’t want to feel that anymore.”

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