Hockey Win Caps “Saintly Season’
Sean Atkins on Monday, August 30, 2010 © The Cairns Post
THEY went marching in to the grand final as minor premiers and firm favourites, so it was no surprise that Saints finished the job in the men’s classic league decider on Saturday night.
But despite their dominance throughout the 2010 season, it was no easy ride for Saints who had to work hard for their narrow 1-0 win over Souths.
A well-taken goal from Darryn Born in the 11th minute proved enough in the end of a final that had plenty of twists and turns to keep a big crowd entertained.
Saints, looking refreshed after their three-week break, dominated for large parts of the match and could have added to their total.
But Souths saved their best for the season’s big finale and several times they went close to grabbing an equaliser.
After the presentations, a relieved Saints coach Chris Ireland paid tribute to the challenge Souths had put up.
“Grand finals are different games, you can be minor premiers but we knew Souths were going to come at us tonight,” Ireland said.
Ireland admitted to some nervous times during the match.
“Our defence tonight stood up for us, but at times we couldn’t score because Souths played so well,” he said.
Souths had the harder route to the grand final, only securing their place last week, with Saints qualifying directly as minor premier at the end of the regular season.
There were no signs of rustiness for Saints who started brightly with Kaine Overlack testing Souths goalkeeper Brendon McAlister with a good effort in the fifth minute.
Then, in the 11th minute, a lovely ball found Born inside the D and he worked the opening well before sending a shot just to the right of McAlister and into the net.
Souths fought their way back into the game with Dean Butler at the heart of several threatening moves.
He saw one low shot turned away on 19 minutes, then on 23 minutes a penalty corner found its way to Butler but the opportunity was snuffed out by the dogged Saints defence.
Just before the break, there were shouts from Souths fans as Gary Tippet found himself in an excellent position in front of goal, but Saints goalkeeper Andrew Small was out smartly to close down the angle.
Early in the second half it was Souths keeper McAlister who reacted well when Born was played through.
This scare for Souths was followed by more nervous moments as Saints won two penalty corners in quick succession.
At the other end, a Souths penalty corner went to Tippet who hit a low shot wide of goal.
In the closing minutes Souths pushed harder for the equaliser and this inevitably left them vulnerable to being hit on the counter attack.
Saints nearly capitalised when a great ball out of defence went to Born, but Adam Catalano was not quite able to get on the end of a superb cross.
Full-time sparked wild celebrations for the Saints boys, but beaten coach Andrew Bombardieri said he could not have asked any more of Souths.
“I am proud of the way our boys performed, I think probably played our best game but we just couldn’t put it in the net,” Bombardieri said.
“Some of our older guys have said that this will be their last year, to give some of the younger guys a chance.
“I’ll wait and see what I’m going to do, because it’s a bit of unfinished business.”
For Ireland, the trophy-winning season feels especially sweet because he had rated his developing Saints as being a year away from hitting the standard he was looking for.
“Our young blokes stood up well – I had thought maybe next year would be the one for us,” Ireland said.
“We are going to lose players next year, but we know will be able to bring people on.”