Congratulations everyone. Whatever your age and whatever level of footy you play, making a grand final is a fantastic achievement and something of which you should all be very proud. Grand final week and the game itself is great fun. Enjoy!
To get there, though, these kids once again showed the character and guts they’ve become renowned for.
The preliminary final was tight all day and after we snatched the lead in the second quarter, little more than a goal separated the teams throughout. And for that we owe our backline so much. Led by Will sweeping up across half back and with Ben C, Connor, Fergus, Archie and Blake repeatedly throwing their bodies on the line, helping each other out and desperately fending off Moore Park attacks.
So many times their willingness to support each other and not let their mates down saved goals which ultimately proved the difference.
Going into three quarter time eight points up, an early Moore Park behind and goal quickly cut the lead to one point and it was anyone’s game.
Anyone, that is, who has the character to persevere and handle pressure. And the Cannons yet again stood up.
The backline kept withstanding the pressure, Tank, Cooper and Nic in the middle were giving us best use of the footy, Damo kept tackling and we were again getting on top of the game, but needed to convert our possession.
Paddy lifted when the team needed him and after laying a strong tackle, he played on quickly from the free kick and passed nicely to Alex who took another strong mark and calmly went back to slot his third goal for the day to put us seven points up.
Shortly after, our attack yet again started deep in defence where Will mopped up and sent the ball downfield, a string of passes found Cooper who delivered to Whitey who played on immediately, skipped past a couple of defenders and steered home the sealer, putting us 14 points clear with five minutes to go.
But Moore Park also showed plenty of character, kept coming and ensured the crowd on the hill were never at ease. They clawed back to within eight points and still had a sniff, but the Cannons held firm even though a Moore Park goal on the siren narrowed the final margin to two points. Even when you think you might be clear, you still need to fight hard until the final siren.
As the game opened in the accustomed dewy conditions, Cooper, Damo and Will kept us going in the first quarter. Cooper was everywhere, taking marks, tackling, running through the lines and delivering beautifully by foot; Damo led the way with his tackling and stopped many promising Moore Park attacks, while Will was impassable in defence.
Tank in the ruck set up our first goal from the opening bounce in the second term when he roved his own tap, dished off to Paddy who handballed to a running JA streaming through the guts to find Alex on the lead. His goal locked the scores at 1.2 apiece.
Tank wasn’t just strong in the ruck, he was running down opponents, tackling, shepherding and, along with Jezza, provided a big presence for their teammates.
We hit the lead midway through the second term after a Cooper tackle turned over possession and Liam ran hard to beat two defenders to the loose ball, kicked it ahead for Ben M to gather and, from long range, potted the goal to give us a five point advantage.
It was a lead the kids fought hard to preserve. They kept Moore Park goalless in the second and third quarters and their hard work and constant pressure was rewarded when Alex snapped a goal in the third term to give us our eight point buffer.
That hard work and pressure were crucial to the win. There were so many examples of little. but very big, efforts which proved so decisive …
Tank running about 40 metres down the flank to beat two Moore Park players to the footy; Connor climbing up off the deck to chase and lay a crucial tackle in defence; Will punching the ball clear from what looked like a certain Moore Park mark; Finlay putting himself in danger to hold his ground and mark under all sorts of pressure; Dom stepping into traffic to put on a shepherd; Brayden bursting through a pack to clear the way for his mates.
They were hard to do, but had to be done. They’re the little things that are actually big things that can win a grand final.
CANADA BAY 5.5 (35)
Goals: Alex 3, Ben M 1, Whitey 1
MOORE PARK 4.9 (33)