Premiership window: How early breaks led McInerney to grand final

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“I was a Carlton fan, so I didn’t get to see many finals as a Carlton fan, but it was great fun.”

It’s somewhat fitting he was a Carlton supporter. McInerney was born with the umbilical cord around his neck and “came out blue”, so goes the story he told his Swans teammates before his AFL debut in 2019.

Fast-forward to this week and McInerney is a Swan, a crucial part of the young brigade – featuring James Rowbottom, Errol Gulden, Nick Blakey and Logan McDonald – which has revived Sydney during a nine-game winning streak that has led to the last Saturday in September.

Who knows if they would be here without McInerney’s stunning intercept mark and goal in a one-point preliminary final win over Collingwood last week, picking off a Darcy Moore kick intended for Jeremy Howe and booting a goal to bring Swans fans to their feet.

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McInerney is no stranger to being thrown in the deep end, having moved from Melbourne to Sydney to launch his career. That was a reality check for someone who “wouldn’t have done anything when I was a kid; no washing, no cooking, none of that”.

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It meant he had to rely on his Swans teammates like no one else. McInerney says some among the younger crew hardly spend a minute apart, which would make Sydney’s first flag in 10 years all the more special.

“We joke about it a bit with Errol and Logan that they came in and it’s just all been winning. We played finals last year and finals again this year. When myself, Nick Blakey and Rowey first got to the club, we were fourth-last and third-last, so it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows,” McInerney said.

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“To get here now, it’s a credit to the staff, the club and the coaching group. There’s the players we’ve got around the club, Parksy [Luke Parker], Ramps [Dane Rampe], and even Joey [Josh Kennedy], even though he’s not playing this year, he has had a massive impact on our careers. It’s just incredible we’ve come this far and we’re in a grand final, it’s amazing.”

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