Some would say that if Adelaide youngster Darcy Fogarty ends up being half as good as Josh Kennedy, he will do just fine in AFL football.
In round 21 of the 2022 AFL season, Kennedy’s 293rd and final game, half as many goals from Fogarty as Kennedy were just enough to get the beleaguered Crows a win and deny the Eagles champion a fairy-tale ending.
Fogarty kicked four goals, Kennedy kicked eight. But Fogarty booted three of his in the final term when the game went on the line to steer Adelaide to a 16.6 (102) to 13.8 (86) win and give Crows fans something other than the disastrous 2018 camp to talk about.
Two of those last-quarter goals were long bombs Kennedy would have been proud of.
At the other end, the Eagles veteran who had kicked superbly for the first three quarters, missed one he would normally swallow to give the Crows enough breathing space to get the win.
Fogarty aside, Adelaide were brilliantly led by their own milestone man Rory Laird, who kicked two first-quarter goals to subdue a crowd of more than 50,000 and get the Crows rolling. Laird finished with 36 touches.
The Eagles were brilliantly served again by defender Tom Barrass, whose first half on Taylor Walker forced the Crows to re-shuffle their forward line and get Barrass out of the way. The burly left-footer finished with 10 marks and 15 disposals.
Nic Naitanui and Reilly O’Brien fought another titanic ruck battle but another one-quarter lapse, this time in the third, was the critical period of the game that cost the Eagles the win.
Retirement? Just Joshing, surely
It was hard to believe this was a farewell game for an injury-hampered veteran who had said he was running on empty when you looked at the quarter-time stats.
Kennedy went to the first break with three goals, all from trademark leads and unerring set shots: Two from deep in the forward pocket and one from outside 50. The Eagles needed them, too.
The Crows had their own star to celebrate in Laird, who kicked two of his team’s first three goals and went to the first break with 10 disposals, but by quarter time Kennedy’s goals and several muffed chances had narrowed the gap to three points.
The Eagles evened out the contested battle, took control of stoppages and owned territory in the back half of the quarter. Liam Ryan worked up the ground to provide an avenue into attack and most roads inside the West Coast attacking 50 led to Kennedy.
Heroic Hamill pays the price
Don’t doubt the courage of the modern footballer. Will Hamill bore the brunt of a Jack Darling marking attempt in the second term.
Hamill, a 21-year-old 81kg running defender with some concussion history, stood under a scrambled Andrew Gaff kick forward that lobbed on his head like a hand grenade. He copped a forearm from Darling, a 30-year-old power forward sprinting to get to the drop of the ball.
Kennedy added a fourth goal in the second term and his teammates got busy about the business of winning the game. They only took a narrow lead to half time but had a clear 74-66 edge in contested possession, had dominated the game on the outside with a 117-71 edge in uncontested possession, had won the pressure battle with a 45-33 edge in the tackle count and a 31-18 edge in the inside-50 count.
Barrass was on top in his battle against Walker but the Crows stayed in touch thanks to valuable goals from Lachlan Murphy, Ned McHenry and a trademark long range effort from Fogarty.
Another game, another bad quarter
West Coast have consistently suffered a one-quarter lapse in almost every game this season, and it happened again after half time.
With Barrass dominating his duel with Walker, the Crows sent Walker deeper and for part of the term Barrass went with him. It cleared a path to the Adelaide goal and, with them also doing better in and around the contest, the goals flowed.
The Crows kicked the opening four goals of the term as Shane McAdam kicked his second and third goals, Walker got on the scoreboard and Elliott Himmelberg also goaled after Jamaine Jones daydreamed his way into the protected zone to concede a 50-metre penalty.
Laird added a big third quarter to his big opening term and went to three quarter time with 29 disposals alongside his two goals. Kennedy added two more for the term to go to three-quarter time but they were about damage control as the Eagles scrapped a four goal lead back to 17-points at the last change. From there, Fogarty’s deadly kicking and Kennedy’s rare miss proved pivotal.