GEELONG coach Paul Hood has spoken with pride about his players despite the disappointing end to their inaugural AFL Women’s season.
The Cats were no match for premiership favourites Adelaide in Sunday’s preliminary final, with the Crows showcasing their dominance and proving why they sat top of the Conference A ladder after running out 11.7 (73) to 1.1 (7) winners in what was the second largest winning margin in AFLW history.
“Our playing group have been tested since Round 1,” Hood said following the loss at Adelaide Oval.
“Losing our best young player (Nina Morrison) at training, having four interstate trips in the last six weeks of
the season, and so many hurdles that we’ve had to overcome, they just keep turning up.
“The main message I conveyed to the players was that I am really proud of them.
“This AFLW team we’ve got here, obviously our footy needs to develop but as far as building a culture and galvanising the group it’s been terrific.
“They’re a terrific group.”
Geelong started the game on the back foot after All-Australian squad member Maddy McMahon was withdrawn from the team due to a delayed concussion, joining key forward Phoebe McWilliam (broken hand) on the sidelines.
The Cats were kept scoreless for three-and-a-half quarters, and their solitary goal came with just four minutes to go after a free kick was awarded to Richelle Cranston.
Adelaide captain Erin Phillips was unstoppable, yet she acknowledged the “bumps and bruises” she felt from the Cats.
“I don’t think the scoreline was reflective of the game,” Phillips said.
“(Geelong is) a young upcoming team, I think they’re going to be around the mark in the next few years.”
With four clubs coming into the competition in 2020 and two of those clubs – Richmond and St Kilda – based in
Victoria, the Cats may struggle to keep their tight-knit team together.
However, Hood hopes to retain a “large part” of his squad for next year.
“Whatever happens will happen,” he said. “There’s so much youth and some important players that we look forward to building a future with.”
“There’s been some ups and downs, but we’re so excited (about the future).”
“AFLW is a tremendous journey, and to see in our little town in Geelong the way our players have inspired young girls in Geelong, and to see the growth in the game and what fantastic role models our players have been, I can’t wait to see how the future goes.”
“I think it’s really bright.”