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Cat champs to retire at season's end

Two Cat champs wave goodbye Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan thank the home crowd as they announce their retirement
Tom Lonergan and Andrew Mackie will retire at the end of the season

BELOVED Geelong duo Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan will retire at the end of the season. 

The defenders told teammates of their decision in the middle of Simonds Stadium immediately after the Cats' 44-point win over Greater Western Sydney.

 

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They then walked around the ground to thank the Geelong fans before being applauded down the race. 

It was the 184th game the pair had played alongside each other and 11 years to the day when Lonergan lost his kidney after backing into a marking contest in 2006.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said held the pair in the highest esteem and their classy departure reflected the quality people they were.

"There is no one in the game I respect more than those two," Scott said.

"They give to the team, they help their teammates, they sacrifice their own interests if it is necessary for the betterment of not just the team itself but the football club." 

 

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Lonergan, who played in the Cats' 2011 premiership, said he decided this would be his last season when he saw Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge announce his retirement.

He said he had been talking with his great friend, Mackie, about their retirement during the week.

"[We] knew it was the right time to go out and we wanted to do it really low key," Lonergan said.

"It was a big game for us so we didn't want to make it about us during the week. We just wanted to worry about getting a win."

Mackie, 33, was drafted by the Cats with pick No.7 in 2002 and has played 277 games, including all three of Geelong's premierships between 2007 and 2011.

Lonergan, also 33, was selected by the Cats with pick No.23 in the same 2002 draft. He overcame a life-threatening kidney injury suffered in just his seventh game to play 207 games to date.

Both are set to play at least two more games with Geelong earning a double chance in the finals after its eighth top-two finish in 11 years.