WITH six wins in the second half of the season, there was plenty to be excited about at Ikon Park heading into the off-season.

A number of players enjoyed career-best campaigns, while there were others who broke through in Navy Blue.

Who shone in 2019 — and how did it all happen?

Big guns fire

When it comes to Carlton, there’s no bigger gun than Patrick Cripps.

Carlton’s co-captain once again put in a brilliant campaign, ranking No.1 in the competition for average clearances and No.2 for average contested possessions. He averaged 28 disposals per game, while his 13 goals from 20 matches ranked elite among midfielders.

However, he wasn’t alone.

Marc Murphy’s second half of the season was vintage form from the veteran, who starred when transitioning to a familiar midfield role. Counterpart Ed Curnow was just as influential in the clinches, while Liam Jones could have joined Cripps in the All-Australian squad if not for a concussion injury.

New Blues shine

A lot has been said about Sam Walsh’s first season — and fair enough, too.

The brilliant youngster broke the record for most disposals in a debut year since 1999, impressing all comers with the way in which he has performed since debuting in Round 1.

The 19-year-old wasn’t the only new Blue to make a good impression in his first season at his new club.

Nic Newman placed in the top 10 in the competition for rebound 50s, performing with aplomb in new surrounds.

Michael Gibbons made the most of his long-awaited chance at the elite level, proving his wares particularly in the second half of the season, while Will Setterfield showed why he was pursued so heavily by those at Ikon Park 12 months ago.

Blue bookends produce the goods

Carlton supporters have looked back on the 2015 NAB AFL Draft as a key element behind the Club’s reset.

Throughout the season just gone, the first two selections cemented their status as Carlton’s bookends for years to come.

With a career-best tally for goals, Harry McKay - despite inaccuracy in front of goal - produced a career-best season, largely on the back of a full pre-season. He ended the season ranked No.3 in the competition for contested marks, despite missing two games mid-year.

At the other end of the ground, Jacob Weitering emphatically responded from a frustrating 2018 with a first-class personal campaign.

The 21-year-old ranked in the top five among key defenders for intercept marks, while he ended the season with by taking the scalps of Josh Kennedy, Tom Lynch and Tom Hawkins.

Late-season bloomers

A number of emerging Blues relished their chance at the elite level in the second half of the season.

Under new senior coach David Teague, an attacking game style saw the Blues become a two-goal better side in offence throughout the second half fo the year.

And the likes of Jack Silvagni, Matthew Kennedy and Lochie O’Brien all showed their capabilities in the final 11 rounds of 2019.

Silvagni enjoyed his best season to date, averaging 15 disposals in the final two months of the season while being Carlton’s No.1 ranked played for forward pressure (tackles inside 50).

Kennedy proved himself to be a viable attacking option, kicking 11 goals from eight games in a new role up forward, while second-year O’Brien played every game from Round 12 and averaged 290 metres gained per game.

Comeback kings

Carlton certainly made its supporters go through the highs and lows of triumph in 2019: sometimes in the same game.

David Teague didn’t have to wait long to go through a rollercoaster of Senior Coach emotions, tasting the sweetest of wins in his first game.

Having trailed Brisbane by 37 points midway through the second term, an inspired second half saw the Blues come away with a 15-point win.

Three weeks later, the Blues produced a similar comeback in the West, overturning a 29-point quarter-time deficit to famously prevail by four points.

To cap things off, Carlton trailed St Kilda by four goals in Round 22, but roared home in front of a passionate home crowd to sign off 2019 in style.

Breaking new ground

When looking back on the season, it’s hard to look beyond that win against Fremantle as the highlight of the year.

In what was Carlton’s ninth biggest win from a quarter-time deficit, Marc Murphy’s late piece of magic also marked Carlton’s first win in Perth since 2016. Coincidentally, Murphy was the hero on that day as well.

However, the Round 15 win wasn’t the only piece of success for the travelling Blues this season.

The Blues overturned recent history when they visited the SCG in Round 17, securing their first win at the ground in eight years and just their second since 1993.