Shattered Blues regroup after AFL collapse

Carlton are reeling after throwing away their AFL finals berth in catastrophic fashion but chief executive Brian Cook hopes the heartbreak can hold the Blues in good stead.

Carlton sat in the top-eight all season and appeared primed to end a nine-year finals drought.

Then, in the space of nine days, the Blues slipped to a last-ditch loss to Melbourne, before capitulating to Collingwood by a point on Sunday.

The Blues led by 24 points at three-quarter-time but kicked 0.6 to the Magpies’ 5.1 in the last quarter to send their arch-rivals into the top-four, while falling outside the eight themselves.

“It really hurts at the moment. We went back to Ikon Park last night, the families, players, staff. The players are completely devastated – we’re all devastated really,” Cook told SEN Breakfast on Monday.

“We wanted to play finals footy, we fought really hard to do that, but we were unsuccessful.

“In the end, when it comes down to it, we threw away a couple of games, we didn’t play well in the key moments, the most accountable moments and we have to live with that. You need to live with that for a while.

“I don’t think we will forget about this moment and hopefully it will be a motivator in the years to come.”

Cook was at Geelong when Sydney’s Nick Davis broke their hearts in 2005, before the Cats had their own breakthrough in 2007.

“Whilst at the time (those moments are) devastating, they do build up some sort of resilience,” he said.

“It happens for a reason and so long as we can learn from what’s happened the last couple of weeks in particular, then it’s worthwhile

“But at the moment it’s really hard to be rational about these things

“We’re still wiping the dirt off our knees at the moment and trying to think about where we go from here.”

Cook felt Carlton’s season was generally positive, noting they beat four of the top eight sides and lost by less than a goal three times.

“There’s capability there and there’s talent there,” he said.

“We just need to round off and improve in those accountable moments in the future.”

Carlton’s second half of 2022 was ravaged by an “out of proportion” number of injuries.

They were without Sam Walsh, George Hewett and Matthew Kennedy for the Collingwood loss.

Cook said the club needed to have a look at their injury toll, but stressed he wasn’t “too sensitive” about it.

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