Ablett courage not enough for Cats in GF

Geelong's Gary Ablett suffered a shoulder injury early in the AFL grand final against Richmond.
Geelong's Gary Ablett suffered a shoulder injury early in the AFL grand final against Richmond.

Geelong superstar Gary Ablett's courage wasn't enough to inspire a fairytale finish to his storied AFL career in Saturday's grand final.

The retiring champion's 357th and final match looked over inside five minutes of the historic clash at the Gabba.

Ablett hurt his left shoulder in a tackle from Richmond's Trent Cotchin and had to be assisted from the field in obvious pain.

While most feared the dual Brownlow Medallist was done for the night, he reappeared on the bench on the 19-minute mark with his shoulder heavily strapped.

Despite clearly being affected by the injury, Ablett played on, ending with 12 disposals, two clearances and three score involvements.

As inspirational as the 36-year-old's efforts were, it couldn't deny the Tigers a third premiership in four years as Richmond ran over the Cats in the second half to claim a 12.9 (81) to 7.8 (50) victory.

Teammate Patrick Dangerfield said he wasn't surprised at all by Ablett playing through the pain barrier for his team.

"He's incredibly strong-willed, mentally tough. Whatever adjectives you'd like to use to describe someone that's incredibly resilient, he's all that and above," Dangerfield said.

"It's emotional for us all to see the back of his playing days.

"In my time in the game I haven't seen someone dominate for a genuine decade.

"He's a pleasure to play with, awful to play against and you know I count myself lucky as we all do we've been able to experience him."

Following the match, both teams formed a guard of honour to clap Ablett off the pitch in a remarkable show of respect to the two-time premiership player.

Australian Associated Press