The Carlton Blues have been dealt a significant blow following the news that defender Ciaran Byrne has indeed ruptured his right anterior cruciate ligament and will likely be sidelined until next year. The Irishman suffered the injury during the Blues’ loss to Collingwood when he landed awkwardly after colliding with Travis Varcoe during a routine clearance. It was clear straight away that Byrne was in some serious discomfort, and the club’s worst fears have now come true, with it confirmed that the 21-year old has torn his ACL, ruling him out for as long as 12 months.
The former County Louth player first made the move to Australia in 2013, earning promotion from a category B rookie into a member of the senior team shortly after. After breaking into the starting line-up in 2015 before a hamstring injury forced him to spend the rest of the year on the sidelines, it wasn’t until this season before Byrne really begun to cement himself as an important part of Brendon Bolton’s plans. In his 11 appearances this season, the youngster has looked every bit an AFL player, and his absence from the team over the next year will be a massive blow to a Carlton team boasting huge odds of around 500/1 to turn this season around and win the Grand Final.
It wasn’t all bad news for Carlton, though, with teenager Jack Silvagni stepping up and producing a promising performance that will give the club confidence he could be something of a silver lining to what has been a dismal season in a lot of ways. The third-generation Blue, Silvagni looked solid in his first appearance for the club, producing 15 disposals and six marks in an impressive debut. While he didn’t manage to score despite a number of opportunities, the forward will be hoping he has done enough to convince Bolton he should retain his place in the team. Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both legends at Carlton, the latest Silvagni has some big footsteps to follow in, and the early signs were fairly promising.
Currently 12 points away from the top eight and a place in the AFL finals, Carlton will be well aware that they need to produce an epic comeback if they are going to have any chance of extending their season beyond the end of August. Having failed to reach the finals since 2013, the Blues fans are getting fed up of seeing their hopes all but dashed by the midway point of the campaign. While this season might be in danger of ending in disappointment again, it’s crucial the club can at least come out of it with some positives to take from it. One of those might not be Byrne following his injury, but there is now a chance Carlton have discovered a player in Silvagni who could go on and become a legend just like his father and grandfather.
At the end of the day, though, 2016 is beginning to look worrying similar to 2015 and 2014, and the Blues supporters will be left asking some tough questions of just where the club is heading.