For newfound Fremantle midfielder Gabby O'Sullivan, a ticket to a preliminary final was the perfect birthday gift as she turned 28 two days after her side's big win on Saturday.
A teacher by day, the bubbly O'Sullivan - who lives up to her nickname 'Energizer Bunny' - proclaims she's "feeling great" for her age.
"All the kids are like 'I can't believe you're 28!' but I actually feel really good," O'Sullivan told womens.afl.
Known for her forward prowess coming into the 2022 season, kicking 15 goals across 38 games, this year she has moved into the midfield to provide a point of difference. O'Sullivan brings an attacking mindset to the Dockers' onball brigade, thanks to her years spent inside 50, which complements the tough defensive game of Kiara Bowers and the power of Hayley Miller.
"Having played forward for a long time, there's obviously an element of defence in there, but a lot of it is attacking. I think that's my natural game," O'Sullivan said.
"I think that's my strength. Obviously we have Kiara Bowers who is the tackle queen, and Hayley [Miller] just does it all, and I think for me, I am that spark that can get the ball from the middle to the forward line."
Saturday's qualifying final win over North Melbourne was no better encapsulation of what O'Sullivan offers to Fremantle's midfield. Down by three points and finding it difficult to move the ball into attack in the first quarter, it was her run through the middle that got the Dockers back on track, ultimately leading to a 38-point win and the highest score ever conceded by the Kangaroos.
O'Sullivan herself ended the game with 18 disposals, a goal and career-high clearances and inside 50s, with six and seven respectively. But she refuses to take credit for turning momentum in Fremantle's favour.
"We focus on it every year, we spend some time on our trademark and building our culture, what we want to stand for," O'Sullivan explained. "But this year we spent probably the most time developing our trademark than we ever have.
"We just spoke about what we wanted to stand for and what we wanted other people to think of us when they watched us play and when they saw us off the field, and a lot of it came back to the team.
"It's why we play football, you don't play it for individual accolades, you play because you love to be part of something bigger than yourself."
That team focus was represented on the stat sheet, as the Dockers broke the AFLW record for most individual goalkickers in a game with 10.
O'Sullivan is quick to shout out her teammates, too. She describes Dana East as "sensational" and warns we need to keep an eye on her for the next 10 years, and also proclaims that outside the club Mim Strom never gets enough credit.
"The handballs she gave out really opened up the game that actually led to quite a few of our goals. She's so underrated," she said.
But just like Strom's growing confidence has seen her excel on the field, that is also something O'Sullivan credits for her improved season this year.
"One thing I've been really trying to work on is my self-belief, my confidence," O'Sullivan said.
"I've got Hayley, I've got Turbo... that gives me huge confidence."