Collingwood have missed their opportunity for a flag, according to Fox Footy’s Leigh Montagna as their “fairytale” season came crashing down at the SCG on Saturday night.
Jason Dunstall had tried to argue that it was not a “bad thing” the Magpies suffered the heartbreaking one-point preliminary final loss to the Swans.
He believed the loss would help the “inexperienced players” build under coach Craig McRae.
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But Montagna did not agree, and said Collingwood let their opportunity “slip” after coughing up their worst first half of footy this season.
“I think this was their year – this was the fairytale year that might have been their chance to go all the way,” he said post-match.
“There’s no guarantees they’ll get back to a prelim – this was their opportunity, they’ve just let it slip.
“They’ll be shattered. They will be heartbroken when it sinks in.
“This, I reckon was their opportunity this year with the year they’ve had.”
David King said the Magpies just looked “out-of-sorts” early in the loss to Sydney.
“They just got so much wrong early – they were fumbly, their back six were out-of-sorts. We haven’t seen that all year,” he said.
“It was just a freak event that first quarter.”
Speaking on Best on Ground, Nick Riewoldt agreed it was a “missed opportunity” for Collingwood in 2022.
“They are so hard to get to – preliminary finals,” he said.
“Look at what Collingwood have had to do to get there – they’ve had to come from behind time and time again to secure a top four berth.
“To just say that organic growth next year is going to provide you with the same opportunity – it doesn’t work that way. Because every club is going to improve. Every club is going to grow, every club is going to have a great off season.”
Nathan Buckley agreed there were no guarantees in footy, as Collingwood’s campaign ended.
“I don’t reckon what Jason Dunstall said was right, that it would be a good thing for them,” he said on Best on Ground.
“I don’t agree with that statement. That one doesn’t quite ring true.
“You don’t automatically get back there.”
Collingwood coach Craig McRae refused to dwell on the disappointment, and said he was proud of his players.
“It’s difficult when you get so close … but there’s an overwhelming sense of pride,” he said.
“You look at the players in the eyes and see how much they’ve hurt and how much they’ve given for the year to fall short. I’m just extremely proud of what they’ve been able to do this group.
“(But) the reality of this sport is you don’t start where you finish.
“We start 18th again. But there’s a lot of stuff that’s been built and the foundations of what we want to be.”