Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page - BRETT STUBBS Sports Editor brett.stubbs@news.com.au

THEY left it un­til the fi­nal, thrilling min­utes of the game, but West Coast Ea­gles have ban­ished the de­mons of 2015 in an epic AFL Grand Fi­nal vic­tory over Colling­wood.

The Ea­gles, re­turn­ing to the last Satur­day in Sep­tem­ber af­ter ca­pit­u­lat­ing to Hawthorn three years ago, pipped Colling­wood by five points at the MCG.

Among the he­roes were mid-fielder Luke Shuey, above left, who was best on ground, and Dom Sheed, who slot­ted the match-win­ning goal.

The re­sult was heart­break­ing for Tas­ma­nian Mag­pies Jeremy Howe, right, and Brody Mi­ho­cek, whose premier­ship dreams were crushed.

“KEEP your head up and stand proud.”

That was a fa­ther’s sim­ple mes­sage to Colling­wood’s star de­fender Jeremy Howe, 28, af­ter the Tas­ma­nian was part of the Pies’ five-point loss to West Coast in yes­ter­day’s AFL Grand Fi­nal.

Howe, who went in un­der a cloud due to an in­jured an­kle, was left dev­as­tated by the nar­row loss, with his dad, Andy, left to con­sole his youngest son.

“I just said to Jeremy, ‘mate keep your head up and stand proud and just look at what you’ve achieved’,” Andy said.

“‘Each and every one of you has got to be proud of mak­ing it to a grand fi­nal at least for one and even though you didn’t get a win, it was a great ef­fort’.”

The Dodges Ferry fam­ily, Andy, el­dest son Justin and Jeremy, had been brought closer to­gether fol­low­ing the sud­den death of wife and mother Kim two years ago.

Kim’s sis­ter, Karen Wade, was also in the rooms yes­ter­day to of­fer emo­tional sup­port along­side her hus­band, for­mer AFL Tas­ma­nia chief ex­ec­u­tive Scott and their son, for­mer Aus­tralian Test glove­man Matthew.

“Jeremy came out and we got pretty emo­tional be­tween the two of us and a cou­ple of other fam­ily mem­bers,” Andy said.

“What can you say? Do you say good game? Any­thing you say just doesn’t seem enough, but they tried their arse off.

“He was gut­ted, ab­so­lutely gut­ted.

“He would have loved to have won and walked off the ground a happy man.

“He tends to take things hard and we had a bit of a chat this morn­ing about his mum and that would have been a fan­tas­tic thing to win for her, but any­way we can’t do any­thing about it now.”

Howe was one of Colling- wood’s bet­ter play­ers as the Ea­gles mid­field took over and con­tin­u­ally pumped the ball for­ward in the sec­ond half, fi­nally crack­ing the Pies’ stoic de­fence.

Andy Howe dis­missed any sug­ges­tions his son went into the game in­jured, say­ing he was 100 per cent, but he in­jured a calf in the sec­ond half, and had a sore ham­string and cramp as the thrilling match wore on.

Howe wasn’t the only Tas­ma­nian con­nec­tion though as it looked like Brody Mi­ho­cek’s fairy­tale sea­son would have the per­fect end­ing.

The boy from Burnie, over­looked in six AFL drafts be­fore be­ing taken as a rookie by Colling­wood, ap­peared to be a premier­ship player in just his 16th game, and a key con­trib­u­tor at that.

He kicked his first and only goal in the first minute of the last quar­ter to put the Pies six points up, and had a con­tentious pack mark not paid in the for­ward pocket late in the game when the premier­ship was on the line.

His fa­ther, Jack, said the loss was a hard, emo­tional les­son to learn but the Pies would be back.

“He [Brody] is OK but there are a cou­ple of very emo­tional play­ers that are

cry­ing, but they will get an­other go,” Jack said. “They are talk­ing with their fam­i­lies, Brodie Grundy is there, he was get­ting a bit emo­tional.

“He looks like an emo­tional man. Dif­fer­ent guys, dif­fer­ent emo­tions.”

Jack said Colling­wood pres­i­dent Ed­die McGuire got around all the par­ents in the change rooms af­ter the game.

“Ed­die said, ‘sorry bud, hope­fully next year’,” he said.

“And they will come back stronger and big­ger and bet­ter next year.”

Emerg­ing from a “silent locker room”, Colling­wood cap­tain Scott Pendle­bury said the club must use the hurt of yes­ter­day’s crush­ing de­feat to help re­alise its po­ten­tial next sea­son. “I feel like this group is only scratch­ing the sur­face of how good it can be,” Pendle­bury said.

“We started the year with not much be­lief and not much con­fi­dence and we got to within a kick of win­ning it all.’’

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