Harry McKay will miss Carlton’s semi-final with Melbourne after the forward was concussed in Friday night’s AFL elimination final victory over Sydney.
The 25-year-old had a tough night in front of goal, missing two sitters, but his kicking woes were put to one side when he went down in the third quarter.
McKay was flying for a mark inside 50 when the back of Tom McCartin’s head collided with the Blues star’s face.
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The Blues big man went down immediately before medical staff rushed to his side, helping the shaky forward to his feet and towards the bench.
“He’s still very wobbly on his feet as he’s being carried off the ground here. He’s been very unsteady on his feet over the last 30 seconds,” Brian Taylor said in commentary for Channel 7.
McKay’s appearance in the club rooms after the match did little to ease concerns for his health.
He looked pleased to be invited into the circle for the team song but appeared dazed and unable to continue singing, while also struggling on his feet as players swayed side to side.
“He wasn’t in a great way at the end of the game,” Carlton coach Michael Voss said, having confirmed the forward had entered concussion protocols.
McKay will be one of two players to sit out next week’s semi-final with concussion, joining Demons midfielder Angus Brayshaw on the sidelines.
Brayshaw was knocked out cold in the opening minutes of Thursday night’s qualifying final against Collingwood when Brayden Maynard jumped at the midfielder in an attempt to smother his kick inside 50.
But the Magpies player turned mid-air and collected his opponent high with his shoulder as he landed, with the incident unfolding in just half a second.
Brayshaw, who has a history of head knocks, required lengthy attention on the field before leaving the field on a stretcher and in a neck brace.
The incident was assessed as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact, which carries a minimum ban of three matches.
In an extraordinary intervention, new AFL executive football boss Laura Kane stepped in to make the decision over match review officer Michael Christian.
Carlton on the march
The Blues led by 28 points during time-on of the third quarter but had to endure some nervous moments before hanging on for an 11.8 (74) to 9.14 (68) victory in Friday night’s elimination final at the MCG.
Sam Walsh (29 disposals), Blake Acres (26), former Swan George Hewett (25) and reliable defender Jacob Weitering were among the Blues’ best in front of 92,026 fans.
Martin and Matthew Cottrell stood up with two goals each, while Coleman medallist Charlie Curnow managed just one and captain Patrick Cripps (21 touches, one goal) was restricted by Callum Mills.
In doubt with a shoulder injury before the finals, Acres twice made crucial plays in the second half when he dived to touch Sydney shots on the goal line.
Both were ultimately ruled behinds after video reviews, leading Swans coach John Longmire to question the available technology post-match.
Acres also gave Carlton vital breathing space when he strolled into an open goal with five minutes left to play before Hayden McLean’s late major gave the Swans a sniff.
They had 25 seconds to kick a tying goal and send the match to extra-time but the desperate Blues survived.
“We won with defensive resilience and I think we won on heart,” Voss said.
“The last minute and a bit was interesting, it had everything. It had big moments, it had mistakes, but somehow we hung on.
“I guess that’s what finals footy is all about.”
– with AAP