AFL Grand Final: McStay’s Injury Affects Lions, Bailey Shares His Anguish

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Now embroiled in rivalry, the absence of former Brisbane luminary, Daniel McStay, from Collingwood’s Saturday line-up in the AFL grand final, leaves his erstwhile Lions comrades, notably his close pal, Zac Bailey, weighted with sorrow.

After his transmigration from Brisbane to the Magpies at the close of the last season, McStay met his misfortune in Collingwood’s preliminary final triumph over the GWS Giants, suffering a debilitating knee injury in that match, consequently bowing out of the MCG decider.

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The anguish etched on McStay’s face, a sight Bailey wished he hadn’t witnessed, sparked in him apprehensions of a corollary debacle for himself, especially in the face of Lions’ securing their grand final spot with a win over Carlton at the Gabba, less than a day later.

Accepting the lurking danger with a maturity that belied his age of 24, Bailey opined, “Sure, it weighs on you, but, in the sport, you’ve got to stake everything, hoping endurance doesn’t fail you.”

The god of luck did favour Bailey and Brisbane as they approached the final with an overall fit and raring-to-go team. Regrettably, McStay, following a prosperous stint of nine years with the Lions before migrating to Victoria to join hands with former Brisbane stalwart Craig McRae at Collingwood, found himself bereft of such luck.

Bailey’s empathy for his friend was palpable as he commiserated, “I feel his pain. Daniel has an enormous talent; every player dreams of such a moment. For him to miss out on playing in the grand final due to injury is utterly disheartening.”

Bailey extended heartfelt credits to McStay’s guidance and influence for cementing his own place in the Lions’ grand final squad. An introverted novice from Darwin in 2017, Bailey acknowledged, “Dan was exceedingly supportive of me.”

Next to how McStay took the young and inexperienced Bailey under his wing, he found his exclusion from the weekend play disheartening. “Daniel must be deeply disillusioned. It’s heartbreaking for him,” Bailey expressed further.

Certainly, such feelings of desolation will take a backseat come Saturday, when Bailey actualises his childhood dream of registering a mark in an AFL decider.

The excitement in his voice was unmistakable as he shared, “Just being able to play AFL footy was a dream. And now, headed for the grand final, it’s overwhelming. I am buzzing to make it to the field.”

Bailey wrapped up his sporting journey, ingratiating himself on his “ok” performance in 2023 and vowing to further improve in the years to come.

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