Wonderful stuff from Darcy Wilmot- and his mates!
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan hopes another tough exit galvanises his young group, who have now earned a 1-5 record across the last three AFL finals campaigns.
Fagan admits all Brisbane can do is turn up in an AFL final again next year to put to bed “simplistic” criticism of their premiership credentials after a gut wrenching one-point loss ended their 2021 hopes.
The Lions were denied a preliminary final date with Port Adelaide after suffering a 11.13 (79) to 11.12 (78) loss to the Western Bulldogs, with the visitors’ behind in the final minute proving the difference in a frantic final quarter at the Gabba on Saturday night.
Crucial calls went against Lincoln McCarthy and Oscar McInerney in the final quarter that led to a goal and point respectively to the visitors that proved the difference.
It infuriated the 36,470-strong Gabba crowd but Fagan carefully opted not to weigh into a 28-19 penalty kick count post-game.
It was Brisbane’s second straight-sets exit in three years of top-four finishes that have yet to yield a grand final appearance.
Fagan bristled at any suggestion that record was symbolic of their credentials though, labelling this their best season yet.
“Terribly simplistic…(after a three-point loss to GWS in the 2019 semi-final) we’re a whisker away from being in three preliminary finals in a row, with a really young group,” he said.
“I can’t stop people saying what they say.
“I don’t think we played well last week (in a loss to Melbourne) and in the preliminary final last year (losing to Geelong), but in the other four finals we’ve played really well and could have easily won all of those games.
“We’ve got to live with our reputation and the only thing we can do is get back there again next year and put that to bed.”
A pre-season ACL tear for Cameron Rayner set the tone for the Lions this year, who also lost Eric Hipwood to the same injury and had fellow key forward Dan McStay out of Saturday’s semi-final.
Lachie Neale missed time this season too, but they did enough to join the Cats as the only side able to notch top-four finishes in the last three seasons.
“I think we’ve shown a lot of character and it’ll hold us in good stead, a lot of these things do,” Fagan said.
“It’s been a rollercoaster year for us…hopefully it eats away at us a bit and makes us better in the future.”