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Barrett: How Carlton almost pulled off the Shiel steal

WATCH: Dodoro gives Giants the cold shoulder Essendon and Collingwood confirm the arrivals of Dylan Shiel and Dayne Beams
The situation was partially created by Essendon doing as Essendon does in most Trade Periods: annoying other teams in negotiations
Damian Barrett

The first officially sanctioned AFL match of the 2019 season takes place Thursday when Carlton plays Essendon at Ikon Park in the JLT Community Series opener.   

Both clubs have high hopes for the season – the Blues finally believing they are ready to climb off the bottom rungs of the ladder, the Bombers feeling they are a premiership hope.   

In last year’s NAB AFL Trade Period, the two clubs embarked on an old-fashioned scrap for Dylan Shiel, the gun GWS midfielder who wanted to return to Victoria after being one of the foundation Giants players.   

As we know, the Bombers won the battle, only after the Blues got so inside Shiel’s head that he nearly changed his mind at trade deadline. DAMIAN BARRETT goes inside the Shiel deal     

FROM the moment Dylan Shiel made public his decision to choose Essendon ahead of Carlton, the second-guessing started.   

The brilliant GWS midfielder had flown to Melbourne from Sydney on Tuesday, October 9, last year to meet with his manager Robbie D'Orazio in Brighton cafe The Pantry.   

That afternoon he went public in a written statement: Essendon was his club of choice.   

GIANT DECISION Shiel says it's the Bombers

It was massive news for the Bombers. A year after they had secured Devon Smith, Jake Stringer and Adam Saad in a Trade Period, here they were, after a disappointing 2018 season and two days into the 2018 exchange, with one of the game's biggest names choosing their offer over much heavier financial pitches from rivals.   

But having made his decision on believing the Bombers were significantly closer to a premiership than the Blues, Shiel doubted his call, right up until 25 minutes remaining of the 8.30pm, October 17, trade deadline.   

Such was Shiel's state of mind at that moment that he was more than prepared to sign a deal to go to Carlton or even stay at GWS.   

The situation was partially created by Essendon doing as Essendon does in most Trade Periods: annoying other teams in negotiations.   

STRONGEST MIDFIELDS Every club's engine room ranked

It was the Bombers' initial refusal to bolster its low-ball offer of picks nine and 34 to the Giants which had caused the saga to drag out and which ultimately fuelled Shiel's agitation.   

Shiel's mounting unease as the days dragged on frustrated his own management of D'Orazio and Connors, and even to this day they would not know, nor feel the need to know, everything which went on behind the scenes with their player.   

D'Orazio and Paul Connors had constant - sometimes frantic - contact with Shiel throughout that final day of trade.   

It is believed that within the final 90 minutes that Shiel and Carlton general manager of list management and strategy Stephen Silvagni also communicated.   

At that stage, the Carlton curve ball was still well and truly alive.   

Shiel and Silvagni had always been close after developing a rapport back in 2011, when Silvagni was recruiting the inaugural Giants list, and it had hurt Shiel to have to tell Silvagni on October 9 that he was going elsewhere.   

That Silvagni remained in the clubs’ meeting area at Etihad Stadium with 25 minutes remaining to trade deadline kept Essendon officials nervous right to the end.   

The Giants would have preferred Shiel find his way to Carlton, too, their football officials privately making that well known to the Blues. 

Ultimately, the Blues didn't have ample scope to trade in Shiel, as they were not relinquishing their overall No.1 pick in the 2018 draft, because even by then they had become obsessed with Sam Walsh, and the offer of their first selection in the subsequent year's draft alone wasn't going to be enough.   

Connors and D'Orazio decided enough was enough with 25 minutes remaining. Final conversations were had with Giants' list manager Jason McCartney and Essendon's list manager Adrian Dodoro.   

Jason McCartney (far left) and Adrian Dodoro (far right) were all business as the Shiel deal was signed off. 

The Bombers' general manager football Dan Richardson got involved with final negotiations and minutes later, the deal to make Shiel a Bomber was sealed, with two first round picks heading to GWS.   

Shiel didn't want to delve into the testy moments of the Trade Period in the hours after it concluded, and doesn't wish to revisit it now.   

On TV program Trade Table that night, it was put to Shiel that he had sought passage to Carlton, even after publicly nominating Essendon, to which he replied: "It was certainly a difficult decision … I obviously went through a lengthy process involving four clubs and it probably got down to two clubs in the end, the Bombers and Carlton," he said.   

"The Giants had made some big trades throughout the period and expressed that they may be able to keep me at the footy club so there was a conversation there.   

"I'm not sure how close Carlton were in negotiations."   

Shiel, four months in to his life as a Bomber, could not be happier with his new football home.

He's convinced himself he made the right call after all, and his new teammates have said that his energy and skill in pre-season training activities have become a feature of the club's preparations for 2019.   

The Bombers got their man, the Blues missed. But only just.   

Twitter: @barrettdamian