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The luck of the Irish?

When Zac Tuohy runs out on the MCG for Geelong in the grand final against Sydney, he will play his 250th game of AFL, a milestone achieved by around only 2 percent of the over 13,000 footballers who have played at the highest level and strengthen his claim to be the greatest Gaelic footballer to ever play AFL.

His only competitor for the title is the great Jim Stynes, Melbourne Legend and the only non-Australian to win the Brownlow Medal and current holder of the most consecutive games of AFL/VFL football.

Stynes, from Dublin, also played Gaelic football before he played AFL for Melbourne from 1987 to 1998 and is regarded by most as the greatest example of success of a sizeable number of Irish players who have been recruited to play football in Australia.

Zac Touhy will not match Jim Synes effort of winning a Brownlow Medal or his record number of consecutive games, but – if he plays on next year he would be expected to pass Stynes’ total of 264 games and become the greatest Irish AFL game player footballer of all time.

A reasonable number of games in 2023 would also see him join the elite group of Top 100 game players at the Cats and gain him his first Top 100 invite over his career.

Until now, he has sadly fallen into the small group of 250 game players who – because of the timing of their change of clubs – have “fallen between two stools” and failed to make the Top 100 lists of either club that they have represented with distinction.

Zach Tuohy

Zach Tuohy’s after-the-siren winner was one of 2018’s best moments. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Tuohy spent his first six years at Carlton and played nearly half (120) of his games for the Navy Blues – not enough to earn Top 100 game player status.

His record of 129 games so far at Geelong also is not enough to gain a seat at a gathering of the elite at the Cats, but he is now tantalisingly close , and after the grand final will be only four games behind the joint occupants of the “hot seat” John Mossop (1979-1986) and Ronnie Burns (1996-2002), so let’s hope he does play on for at least one more year to earn this well deserved accolade.

Jake Lloyd (Sydney) is another player to reach a significant milestone in the last game of the year. He plays his 200th game and joins Stuart Maxfield on that number, becoming the 35th Swan to do so.

Depending how they perform on the day, a number of other participants may achieve individual milestones: Lance “Buddy” Franklin – who will pass the number of games played by Bob Pratt, the leading goal kicker at the club and also needs just one goal to pass Barry Hall and move to outright third on the Swans goal kicking list whilst Isaac Heeney is capable – on a good day – of scoring 4 goals and bringing up his 200 goals as a Swan.

Records of the number of disposals that a player achieves over his career have only been kept since 1965, but the Swans will be hoping that Oliver Florent (10 disposals) and Tom McCartin (14 disposals) both reach the fairly modest targets required to achieve 2000 career disposals and 1000 career disposals respectively.

Meanwhile, the more productive goal scorer at Geelong, Mitch Duncan has moved one goal ahead of his captain, Joel Selwood in their battle in the middle of the Cats’ Top 100 goal kicking list.

Good luck to all players and both teams and supporters.

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