Milestone McGinness notches NEAFL ton on road to AFL

Most kids dream of kicking the winning goal in an AFL grand final, but Canberra NEAFL umpire Nic McGinness has his sights set on the game's biggest stage for a different reason.

McGinness is working towards his goal of rising into the AFL umpire ranks and getting the chance to blow the whistle on grand final day at the MCG.

The 21-year-old notched an important milestone last week when he officiated in his 100th NEAFL game at Manuka Oval.

His parents Paul and Margot watched on as part of a small crowd, but if all goes to plan they could join 100,000 fans at the MCG if McGinness reaches his AFL target.

McGinness' younger brother Ben also has dreams of making it to the AFL and is part of the GWS Giants academy system as a player.

"[The grand final] is the pinnacle of the sport," McGinness said.

"For officials as well as players, finals and particularly grand finals are what we aspire to. Obviously those appointments aren't going to happen over night but it's certainly something at the end of the season that we look forward to and hope that we have the chance to umpire in.

"It's difficult to put an exact timeframe on because a lot of it is out of my control, but I'd like to think in two to three years I'd start being considered to be selected as a genuine prospect for the AFL."

McGinness' century of NEAFL fixtures came nine years after the former Canberra Grammar School student swapped the Sherrin for the whistle as a skin-and-bone 12-year-old.

McGinness said the realisation of a clear umpiring pathway helped him make the switch.

"I wouldn't say I ever had a light-bulb moment," McGinness said.

"Umpiring was more something that appealed to me as time went on. Once I became aware there was a pathway I wanted to really give it a go and see how far I can take it."

The Australian Catholic University teaching and arts student began his NEAFL journey in Queanbeyan's clash with Ainslie at Margaret Donoghue Oval in 2012.

He has since compiled an impressive resume, which includes selection for the Anzac Day eve fixture between the AFL academy and New Zealand Hawks last year.

McGinness also won the NEAFL umpire of the year award in 2015, as well as being an emergency umpire for the grand final in the same year.

The AFL-earmarked whistleblower then earned an AIS national officiating scholarship last year.

He more recently umpired in the Tasmanian State League's representative match against the NEAFL in June, an "unexpected achievement" he said was rewarded for a good start to the season.

But working towards the AFL is the carrot dangling in front of McGinness.

"I love the sport of Australian rules football and I love being involved in it as an umpire," McGinness said.

"We are very privileged that we get to view games of football from very good positions. A lot of the time because you're concentrated on the job you don't have the time to appreciate that but if you have the time to reflect on it it's certainly a special position to be in.

"We do get our fair share of unwanted feedback on the ground and from over the fence as well but it's all part and parcel of the job."

This story Milestone McGinness notches NEAFL ton on road to AFL first appeared on Brisbane Times.