AN INAUGURAL Demon has called time on her AFL Women’s career.

Defender Meg Downie is hanging up the boots after five seasons at Melbourne, sharing the news of her retirement with teammates over the weekend.

It concludes a 22-game pursuit at the top level for Downie, which unfortunately was impacted by injury.

After joining the red and blue as a free agent in 2016, Downie made her debut in the opening round of the competition, before a hamstring injury and serious concussion ended her season.

She strung together two strong and consistent seasons, before missing multiple matches with illness in 2020, and a high ankle sprain delayed her start in 2021.

Nonetheless, Downie’s contribution to the group was far-reaching. 

“As an inaugural member of our AFLW team, Meg will always have a special place in the history of our club,” GM of AFLW Daniel McPherson told Melbourne Media.

“Three of her five seasons were significantly impacted by injury, which unfortunately meant we didn’t get to see the very best of her as often as we would have liked. 

“During the two seasons that she was injury-free, Meg was selected in the All-Australian team in 2018, and won the club’s Best Defender Award in 2019, which shows the calibre of player that she was.”

Downie managed three games this past season, including Melbourne’s two finals, and played a reliable role down back.

And with unrivalled enthusiasm and perspective, her energy was much-loved around the club.

“Incredibly popular amongst the playing group, Meg will be sorely missed both on and off the field, as she leaves football to put more energies into her career, and to hopefully travel more once the international borders re-open,” McPherson said.

“We thank Meg for the significant contribution she has made to the AFLW program over the last five seasons, and we wish her all the best for her future endeavours.”

The decision was not one Downie took lightly.

But in expressing her gratitude to the group, the 32-year-old said it was the right time to take on a new adventure.

“It’s been an incredible journey. I’ve had the opportunity to grow not only as a footballer but as a person,” Downie said.

“After such a great year for our team, and personally, even despite my injury, the thought of playing on was still very much an exciting prospect. 

“However, the pull to take on something new in my life is too tempting. 

I’m incredibly grateful to Mick (Stinear) in particular, who’s been a role model for me over the last five years.

"I’ve gained so much balance and perspective on life from the time I’ve spent with him. 

“I’ll miss my teammates deeply and the laughs we’ve had together. We’ve shared blood, sweat and tears and I’ll always cherish the memories I’ve built with them. 

“Despite this, my heart tells me this is the right decision. I’m ready to explore what else life has to offer outside of footy and I cannot wait to begin this new journey.”