Geelong Cats 133-52 Sydney Swans
There was Grand Final joy for Ireland's Geelong pair Zach Tuohy and Mark O’Connor as the Geelong Cats were crowned AFL champions after a 132-52 destruction of the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
In helping the Cats to their first title since 2011, the pair became only the second and third Irish players to ever win a Grand Final after Tadhg Kennelly had done so with the Swans in 2005.
Kennelly’s fellow Kerry man O’Connor was originally listed as an emergency player for the final, but was drafted in pre-game to replace Max Holmes with the club stating that "the risk was deemed too great" to risk the latter.
It was plain sailing from start to finish for Geelong following an astonishing opening quarter that saw them kick six goals to lead 41-6 with Tuohy, who was chaired off by team-mates afterwards having played his 250th game, particularly impressive.
That meant that the game was effectively over as a contest early on, but after an even-scoring second quarter, Geelong continued to run riot after half time to canter to the crown 20.13 (133) to 8.4 (52) in front of a heaving crowd of 100,024.
"They're hard to win and every side says it, but I think we deserved one," said emotional Geelong captain Joel Selwood, who won his fourth AFL championship after Grand Final triumphs in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
"This has been building for five or six years."
The showpiece match of Australian Rules football returned to the MCG for the first time since Covid-19 - but the sell-out crowd at the sport's spiritual home were denied anything like a contest.
The oldest and meanest team in the AFL, Geelong booted seven of the first eight goals in a ferocious start, dismantling a Swans midfield that appeared paralysed by stage fright.
The Cats then shut down the match with six unanswered goals in the third quarter to trigger early celebrations in their sleepy home base an hour out of Melbourne.
"This is the pinnacle," said Geelong's veteran utility Patrick Dangerfield. "Worth the wait and better than I could have ever imagined, it's bloody special. We just played such a complete game."
The Cats' 16th win in succession capped one of their most dominant seasons, while erasing the heartbreak of their Grand Final thrashing by Richmond two years ago in Brisbane.
Geelong winger Isaac Smith kicked three goals and won the Norm Smith medal as the Grand Final's best player, but plenty of his team mates had claims to the prize.
The Cats' small forward Tyson Stengle top-scored with four goals, while power forward Tom Hawkins booted three, igniting his team with the first two of the game as he outpointed the Swans' big man Tom Hickey twice in ruck duels.
More had been expected of the Swans, who came into the match on a nine-game winning streak.
But they head home sore and sorry after humiliation on the game's biggest stage.
"We'll be back hungrier and better for it next year," said Swans co-captain Dane Rampe. "To our red-and-white supporters, sorry, we failed you today."
Additional reporting: Reuters