Coaches Corner: Under 19 Golds Grand Final wrap

The Golds made the grand final for only the third time since starting up way back in 1988. We were up against St Kevin’s, the reigning under 19 premier and under 19 premier reserve division premiers.

Our task was going to be hard but given we had good form coming in and had beaten them in the second semi-final, we were looking forward to the game.

We were greeted by a terrific day, with warm sun and not much of a breeze early on to affect play. The ground was in fantastic shape with plenty of grass and a lovely surface to play on.

We lost the toss, kicked with the breeze and immediately a pattern emerged with both teams intent on imposing themselves on the contest to win the contested footy.

As such the play was very scrappy, congested and not helped by umpires unwilling to pay any free kicks to help open the game up. It became evident that it would come down to our ability to stretch the opposition by getting the ball out of the packs to our runners to tire our opponents out.

Conversely, the longer the game stayed as scrappy as it was it would only play into the hands of our bigger opponents.

On the scoreboard the game was fairly evenly balanced at the opening break. After another scrappy quarter where the breeze had started to pick up we found ourselves down, but certainly not out at half time.

We retreated to the sheds and were certainly thinking if we were more positive and aggressive, we could turn the deficit around and put ourselves into a strong position.

In the third quarter we tried to make some inroads into the lead. Late on, we’d got it back under two goals and with the momentum on our side, the game was definitely in the balance.

That momentum was quickly snuffed out just before the last change, though. A poor free kick and subsequent 25 metre penalty gifted SKOB a 16 point lead and to be honest, probably deflated us.

Coupled with that, we lost the flexible Cooper Morris to an ankle injury, which stymied our plans to get him into the mids to crash, bash and get the Skobbers on the back foot.

In the last quarter we kept at it but not an awful lot was going right. We weren’t being rewarded for tackles, the ball seemed to bounce oddly, the breeze certainly picked up. But it should be said that once SKOBS got a sniff of victory, they pushed their advantage home and ran away very convincing winners.

The final margin was really not reflective of all that had gone on before after SKOBS kicked some junk time goals. For long periods of the day, while we may have been behind, we always felt we had a shot if we could get our game going. It just wasn’t to be on the day.

Looking back, it could be argued that the season went one game too long for the team, but we also need to see that we had beaten SKOBS three out of the five times we played them across the season and we deservedly made a grand final.

While the outcome was not as we would have liked, the players should look to learn from this. Our better players were Cam Roberts, Ricky Rando, Danny Melissinsos, Josh Ingram, Tom McDonald and Tom Harrington.

There were many positives from the season. Probably the biggest are that we now have a number of boys who will progress to the reserves and seniors and with the Colts coming up, we’ll have a squad of quality players ready to go that one step further in 2018.

Thanks to the club for its support – it was significant to note that we had very good support from current under 19’s, past players and supporters on the day. Their enthusiastic support was really encouraging for all the boys and I know they really appreciated it.

Thanks to Stuart MacDonald who’s been our team manager, runner, timekeeper, boundary umpire and a steady hand across the year. Thanks to Chris Harrington as runner, Andrew Mullaly as timekeeper and goal umpire and all those parents who helped us across the year. Without you it just doesn’t happen.

Final scores: De La Salle 7.10.52 lost to SKOBS 16.18.114

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