Across The Leagues

Birregurra veteran has the passion

Birregurra veteran Dan O’Kelly says reaching game number 300 “proves I’m a bit older than a lot of the others playing footy".

THE 300-game milestone is something few senior footballers reach.

But Birregurra footballer Dan O’Kelly, known in Colac district football circles as Dok, said he didn’t even see the milestone coming.

“It just sort of crept up on me, I guess it proves I’m a bit older than a lot of the others playing footy,” he said.

“But I’ve always said as long as injuries stay away, I’ll keep playing.”

A 16-year-old O’Kelly made his senior debut for Loch Football Club back in 1992.

He then had a stint at Daylston, played 99 games at Learmonth and took up a coaching role with the Beaufort Crows before spending 18 months teaching in the UK.

And after all these years he still remembers his first game.

“I got into footy because I had two older brothers Tim and Simon who were always into sport, whether it was cricket, basketball, footy we just ran with it,” he said.

“I remember my first kick in senior footy was a goal, I was playing against some fairly older men.”

O’Kelly, who works as a physical education teacher at Buninyong, quickly emerged as a star of Colac district football after joining wife Jo at Birregurra in 2006 – just two years after the Saints finished bottom of the competition ladder.

The 35-year-old played a big part in the club’s surge up the ladder, earning a league best and fairest in 2007, and a possible premiership at the end of this year looms as the final piece of the puzzle.

“The couple of grand finals I’ve played in have been great experience, but it was just good to see the momentum shift,” he said.

“When I first started we were second bottom so to go from there to where we are now, it’s been good to move up with the club.”

Birregurra coach Paul Lynch said O’Kelly was “one of the more coachable players I’ve come across”.

“Dok never complains about the jobs he’s given and he’s one of the leaders of the club, a lot of the boys look up to him,” he said.

“And he’s very fit for a guy in his mid-30s, he’s still running around like a 20-year-old.”

And as for the future, O’Kelly said he would be keen to play on for another season “as long as the body holds up, of course”.

Stunning mark and goal sealed flag for Cats

Former Colac Imperials coach Dave Henry vividly remembers the Cats’ 1991 grand final win against Birregurra.

COLAC Imperials premiership coach Dave Henry clearly remembers to the passage of play that sealed their 1991 grand final victory.

Leading by three goals in the second half, Henry’s brother James took a speccy over Birregurra ruckman Rod Barratt and had the chance to put the margin almost out of reach.

James hadn’t had the most accurate day – he had booted four straight behinds before that shot on goal – so Dave decided to give his brother advice.

“I remember going past him and saying ‘if you can kick this we should win the game’,” Henry said.

“It put the pressure on him, but he’d kicked four points anyway so he had nothing to lose, and he kicked the goal,” he said.

Birregurra fought back late in the game but the Imps held strong to win the match at Central Reserve 13.16 (94) to 12.13 (85).

Dave Henry, who coached the team for three years and played for six including the ’91 and ’95 premierships, said it was a sweet victory.

“We finished on top, but we weren’t the favourites going in because we’d beaten everyone except Birregurra,” he said.

“It was a game we knew we’d have to play at our best to win and they were a really strong, physical side.

“We were fortunate that we played well on the day and won by about eight points.”

James Henry, who lives in Hobart, as well as premiership team-mates Ian Grist and Mark Slater, Queensland, are among a host of players due to return to Colac’s Western Oval this weekend for Colac Imperials’ premiership reunions.

Dave, whose children Taylor, 14, and Renee, 13, play at the club, said he was looking forward to catching up with his former team-mates.

“Back in those days the club was full of characters so there was lots of entertainment among the boys,” he said.

“You always had to be on your guard in the locker rooms around the Parker brothers Kevin and Jimmy, if they found a snake out in a paddock it often wound up in your locker – you’d pull your towel out and a big snake would drop at your feet.

“But the social aspect was always fantastic, hence why a lot of people are showing interest to come back.”

Players from Colac Imperials Football Netball Club’s 1991 senior football team, and junior sides from 1981 and 1961, will attend the reunions this weekend, along with netball teams from 2001.

Festivities kick off after Saturday’s clash against Otway Districts.

Boss calls for administration hub funding

by Aidan Fawkes

FOOTBALL officials want more money for central administration hubs and Victorian football and netball bodies to work closer.

Those were the messages officials delivered to AFL Victoria project manager Jim Cail during his hit-and-run visit to south-west Victoria.

Mr Cail was on a fact-finding mission as part of an AFL-commissioned review into the structure of the Victorian Country Football League, spearheaded by Peter Jackson.

Mr Cail met with Colac District Football League chairman Peter Lucas on Monday and Football Geelong chief Lee Hartman yesterday, with central administration hubs high on the agenda.

Mr Lucas said the CDFL had benefitted since Football Geelong took over administration of the league, while Mr Hartman said the hub needed more money to facilitate growth.

He said Football Geelong was self funded until it took on the CDFL administration.

“Pretty much we’d like to see the structures of central administration hubs more formalised and looking at greater funding for those hubs,” he said.

“We’d like to grow our hubs and to facilitate that we need some more funding.”

Mr Hartman said netballers in the region did not receive enough value for money from their registration fees to Netball Victoria.

“The onus is on Netball Victoria and the football bodies to work closer together and understand what the issues are,” he said.

“In Geelong, association netball is on the decline and football-netball is on the rise.”

The VCFL also needed equal representation from all parts of Victoria on its board, Mr Hartman said.

There is currently no representation from south-west Victoria.

“I don’t think they fully understand the issues down here. Because of the growth of our organisation they think we’re going along nicely. But we have some issues,” Mr Hartman said.

He said he did not have an opinion on whether the VCFL remained relevant enough to remain, and put faith in what the review would recommend.

“At the end of the day we want what’s best for football.”

Lorne coach upbeat despite challenging run home

LORNE co-coach Clint Tournier is confident his team can cause a few upsets in its run into finals.

The Dolphins sit sixth on the Colac district football ladder, with each team now having played all other teams.

Seven games remain for Lorne to steal a spot in the top five and Forrest, which sits fifth with a 5-5 record, looms as the team to knock out should the Dolphins make the cut.

Both clubs have enviable draws – the Dolphins meet just two top-five sides in Birregurra and Irrewarra-Beeac while the Lions have just one – Simpson.

The fixture makes Lorne’s knock-out task a difficult one, especially as it works to recover from the loss of Lee Hollmer, Steve Oliver and Blair Tournier to season-ending injuries.

“After finishing fifth last year we wanted to go a step better and I hope we can still do that,” co-coach Clint Tournier said.

“The ladder is that tight that if we start slipping again, we might as well start worrying about next season,” he said.

Tournier conceded the Dolphins’ round nine loss to Forrest could come back to hurt them.

“We knew it was an important game and we talked about it as a team but unfortunately they came to play and we didn’t,” he said.

But the first-year coach remained confident his side could regroup and cause a few upsets, with the return of key players Boe Trickey and Drew Steven for this weekend’s clash with ladder-leader Birregurra coming just in time.

“We know we need to get some confidence back and a win this weekend would go a long way towards that, but we’ve got a massive task taking on Birregurra at their home ground being that they’re the number one side,” he said.

“But if we get all 22 players to contribute and go down there to play then I back the boys no worries.”

Netball association ready for tight finish

by Lachlan Cowlishaw

A COLAC netball association is enjoying one of its most successful seasons despite a fall in player numbers.

The Colac and District Netball Association has experienced one its closest-fought seasons in recent memory after eight rounds of competition.

In the open division, Diamonds sit on top of the ladder after defeating Rubys 33-15.

Emeralds continued to stay in touch with the in-form Diamonds and are only a game behind in second place.

Association president Cameron Horsburgh said he expected a strong turnout for

the second of three Friday night fixtures at Eastern Reserve this week.

“There has been a really good level of competition, while it’s not same number of teams as in previous years, the quality has improved,” he said.

Mr Horsburgh said the CDNA continued to help develop talented netballers.

“There is some really good netball there and there are quite a few players who could go a long way in their futures which is exciting to see,” he said.

Final terms haunt Lions

by Aidan Fawkes

IT’S A statistic that will haunt Forrest coach Dave McKiernan for the rest of the season.

If football matches ended at three-quarter time, the Lions would have an 8-2 record and sit equal top with South Colac and Birregurra, with Irrewarra-Beeac and Simpson a game back.

Instead, Forrest is 5-5, in fifth spot and just one win ahead of Lorne, Colac Imperials and Alvie.

McKiernan has been frustrated with agonising final-quarter fade outs which are likely to deny Forrest a double chance in finals.

The Lions led at three-quarter time before losing in three matches, against Irrewarra-Beeac, South Colac and Birregurra.

In a fourth, against Otway Districts, they trailed by two points but lost by 21.

With an even season and finals likely to go down to the wire, having a second chance in September will be invaluable.

Let’s look at the situation a little closer.

In 10 final quarters this season, Forrest has kicked 30.23 (203) to its opponents’ 28.28 (196), a percentage of 103.6, below its current percentage of 150.5.

Take away matches against Western Eagles and Apollo Bay, the CDFL’s bottom two teams, and the story is bleaker – 19.14 (128) to 26.24 (180), a percentage of 71.1.

On paper, Forrest has the list to take it deep into finals, and one-point losses to Birregurra and South Colac back up the argument.

But finishing fourth or fifth at season’s end means one slip-up in finals is all that’s needed for Forrest’s season to be a case of “what if”.

Wrong way Bomber boosts Demons score

OTWAY Districts can credit Bomber Brad Gore for one of their 76 points from the weekend’s clash with Irrewarra-Beeac.

Football fans were left wondering if Gore had received a knock to the head after he broke out of a pack and took off inside the Demons’ forward 50.

Disregarding calls of ‘wrong way!’, Gore threw the ball onto the boot from 45 metres through the posts at Gellibrand Recreation Reserve’s clubroom end.

The behind failed to have an impact however, as Irrewarra-Beeac went on to win the match 18.8 (116) to 11.10 (76).

Tigers juniors post massive victory

COLAC Tigers under-16 footballers have become accustomed to winning this season.

But the way they put South Warrnambool to the sword at Friendly Societies’ Oval at the weekend was unprecedented.

The Tigers’ juggernaut stretched its record to a perfect 10 from 10 with a 242-point victory against the winless Roosters in round 10 of the Hampden Football Netball League season.

Best-on-ground Jack Williams kicked eight goals, Luke Cardinal seven and Dylan Hodge six in the 38.20 (248) to 1.0 (6) win.

Colac also beat South Warrnambool 25.23 (173) to 0.1 (1) in round three.

The HFNL under-16 competition is shaping as a three-team race, with Colac, 10-0, Emmanuel Hawks, 9-1, and Warrnambool, 8-2, occupying the top three spots.

Terang Mortlake is fourth, one of three teams with a 5-5 record.

It’s a different story for the Tigers in the HFNL under-14 competition, with the young side eighth with three wins and seven losses.

South Warrnambool sits undefeated on top, with Cobden second and Emmanuel Hawks third.

Apollo Bay club rooms ready for upgrade

CIVIC leaders hope to secure funding for a $103,000 upgrade to sport facilities at the Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve.

Colac Otway Shire Council Council has applied for a $40,000 grant for the project from the State Government’s Country Football and Netball Program.

The funds are to renovate the Apollo Bay change rooms, as well as those for visiting teams and umpires. The project will also install facilities for people with a disability.

Should the funding application be successful, the council will contribute $5000, and Otway Coast Committee will put in $24,000 in cash and $13,600 worth of work.

Otway Coast Committee will also put in $11,000 if it is successful obtaining the funds through the council’s recreation reserve contribution program.

Youngsters have a day out at Skilled Stadium

BUDDING footballers have displayed their developing skills in front of 23,000 football fans.

Colac Auskick kids ran onto Skilled Stadium to play a grid game at half time of the Geelong-Adelaide match.

With the weather holding out, it was the perfect experience for the youngsters to play in front of a massive crowd.

The game was the first time some of the Auskickers had attended an AFL match.

Colac Auskick manager Sam McDonald said the day was a success and said he was glad there was no rain, and that everyone got tickets to the game.

Thirty of the Auskickers played in the main game at half time, with another six playing a smaller grid game.

Falcons go down against Oakleigh Chargers

COLAC’S Brody Mahoney still had reason to enjoy Geelong Falcons’ first loss in five weeks.

The bottom-age Falcon played his best game of the TAC Cup season, amassing 14 possessions and slotting a goal in the 11.13 (79) to 17.14 (116) loss against the Oakleigh Chargers to earn second best-on-ground honours.

It was a stand-out performance for the Colac Tiger, who had averaged just under nine disposals a game before Saturday’s clash at Warrawee Park.

South Colac teenager Dylan McCarthy had 12 possessions in the Falcons’ backline, while Cobden’s Jackson Merrett had 20 disposals off the wing with Vic Country having the weekend off from the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.

The loss to the eighth-placed Chargers ended the Falcons’ four-game winning streak and dropped it one spot into fifth on the ladder with a 6-4 record.

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