ONE of the Hampden league's most iconic figures is celebrating a fairytale end to his playing career.
Koroit hard man Damian O'Connor has called time on a success-laden career, retiring a premiership player at both Terang Mortlake and Koroit.
The five-time Terang Mortlake best-and-fairest capped his final outing with a Ron Hoy Medal in Koroit's three-point grand final win over North Warrnambool Eagles on Saturday, cementing his status as one of the league's greats.
"I've had enough I think," the 38-year-old told The Standard post-match.
"I'll still be around the club watching the kids grow up but that's it for me."
O'Connor initially crossed to Koroit as an assistant coach in 2016, joining wife Jess at Victoria Park.
He's enjoyed nothing but success since - adding three premierships to the Saints' coffers.
The big-bodied midfielder said the hard-fought premiership in his final senior game was extra special.
We'll do some recovery running and he's got to win. He's probably one of the hardest trainers I've seen.Chris McLaren on Damian O'Connor
"I've won a few now and you can't really distinguish between them, they're all great to win," O'Connor said.
"It was a gallant effort from North Warrnambool and they nearly pinched it in the end but we just held on."
Saints mentor Chris McLaren said he "disliked playing against (O'Connor) immensely" before he landed at Koroit.
He hailed O'Connor's competitive spirit and contribution to the club's success.
"He's so competitive," McLaren said.
"We'll do some recovery running and he's got to win. He's probably one of the hardest trainers I've seen.
"He's just a big-game player. He used to terrorise Koroit when he played against us.
"Given he lives in Warrnambool and has young kids and his wife's connection at Koroit, we were rapt when we got him."
McLaren said he and O'Connor had discussions about the Saints' future prospects before he signed.
"I think he was apprehensive (at first). At the time we'd just won three - and I said we're not dropping, mate, we're sailing," the three-time premiership mentor said.
I think he was apprehensive (at first). At the time we'd just won three - and I said we're not dropping, mate, we're sailing.Chris McLaren on Damian O'Connor joining Koroit
"That was a carrot for him to come and have some success - some more success, he's obviously a premiership player at Terang Mortlake.
"He's strong and physical and someone you like having on your side and not playing against."
North Warrnambool Eagles' Ben Mugavin, who booted three goals and clunked countless key marks, was awarded the AFL Victoria Country best-on-ground medal.
Eagles coach Adam Dowie encouraged Mugavin, who was considering retirement, to play on. "That could be the making of Ben, performing on the big stage," he said.
"It was pretty amazing. I didn't see that coming. He had such an impact up forward and around the ground.
"It was one of the things we spoke about at the start of the year - push and shove, drop of the ball - but again, I didn't see that coming.
"I said in there in front of everyone - don't retire. I'm not sure what Jordan (Dillon) will do and good ruckmen are hard to come by.
"We really put it on him, him and 'Juddles' (Dillon), and they were both able to perform. That was an outstanding effort."
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