John Longmire shoots down brutal Paddy McCartin question after AFL retirement

The Sydney Swans coach wasn't beating around the bush when discussing Paddy McCartin's unfortunate retirement from the AFL.

John Longmire and Paddy McCartin.
John Longmire says the Swans have no regrets about bringing Paddy McCartin back to the AFL in 2022, after the defender announced he had been forced into retirement. Pictures: Getty Images

Sydney Swans coach John Longmire has hailed the contributions made by the retiring Paddy McCartin, after the 27-year-old announced he was walking away from the AFL on medical advice. Longmire defended Sydney's decision to bring the 2014 No.1 draft pick back into the league last year, after McCartin initially walked away from the game in 2019.

The former St Kilda prospect played almost every game for the Swans in 2022, including their losing grand effort, but was sidelined for much of the 2023 season after suffering a concussion against Port Adelaide in round four. Longmire said McCartin knew for a while before making his retirement announcement on Monday that the cumulative weight of the many concussions he's copped throughout his brief career had left him with only one option.

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Still, it was without regret that the Swans would regard their decision to recruit McCartin, who had impressed in the VFL throughout 2021 in his quest to return to the AFL. His 24 games for the Swans last season, including all three finals, where considerably more than he had ever managed to string together in five years at St Kilda.

McCartin, who was drafted as a key forward by the Saints, fashioned himself into one of last season's most impactful key defenders, and formed a formidable pairing with brother Tom in the Sydney backline. Longmire said McCartin had been missed this season and would be moving into the future.

"We took the advice at the time, and now, from AFL concussion experts, the best in the field," Longmire replied when asked if the club had any regrets about bringing McCartin back. "He went through an exhaustive process back then, got the all-clear, and was able to contribute and be fantastic for us.

"He was guided by the experts then, as were we, and we're guided by the experts now, as he is. That's all we can go by.

"It's disappointing that he's had to complete his career but he's also grateful for the experiences that he had. In particular last year, to come up here and play with Tommy and to play as well as what he did.

"He'd never played back before and we played him in defence and he took to it so well. Probably at the halfway point (of the 2022 season), he was one of the better defenders going around the competition."

McCartin signed a new contract with the Swans at the end of last year that was not due to expire until the end of 2024. It remains to be seen whether he will instead transition into an off-field role at the club.

"We're not sure yet," Longmire said. "He's just sort of come to terms with the end of his football career now. What happens in the future, he's got a few opportunities and a few different things and we'll see what happens."

Paddy McCartin retires from AFL after medical advice

McCartin said on Monday that it was with the advice of specialists in mind that he was ending his AFL career after 63 games. In his 35 games for St Kilda he suffered eight concussions, opting to walk away in 2019 on medical advice along similar lines to what he has now received.

“I am obviously disappointed that I’m no longer able to continue to do what I love, but I have to be guided by the specialists and I know that this is the right decision for me,” McCartin said. “I want to thank the Sydney Swans for the faith shown in me and the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing AFL football.

"It has been a privilege to play for this great club and I will remember this time fondly. I want to especially thank Lucy, my family, teammates, coaches and medical staff for their wonderful support through this challenging period. I’m very grateful.”

Paddy McCartin.
Paddy McCartin fashioned himself into a standout defender with the Sydney Swans, having been drafted in 2014 as a key forward. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/AFL Photos/via Getty Images) (via Getty Images)

McCartin's decision comes a fortnight after Hawthorn ruckman Max Lynch retired on similar medical advice following repeated concussions. The Swans star's decision came after an independent AFL medical concussion panel recommended the 27-year-old cease participation in contact sport.

Swans football boss Charlie Gardner also paid tribute to McCartin. He said the determination to return from the VFL had added much to their AFL ambitions.

“After joining the club’s VFL program in 2021, Paddy worked his way onto the senior list in 2022 where he quickly proved his talent, developing into an elite intercepting defender,” Gardiner said.

“He quickly embraced our club just as we embraced him, and he has been a highly valued teammate and much-loved player. Paddy can be very proud of what he has achieved, and we are grateful for the contribution he has made to the Bloods.

“Paddy will continue to have our full support, and we wish him well in his next chapter.”

With AAP

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