22 September 2015

A third A Grade Premiership in a memorable Grand Final victory over a gallant Old Trinity

St Bernard’s 17.11.113 defeated Old Trinity 15.15.105 

Best: M.Hannan, A.Boyse, A.Singleton, C.Jones, M.DeLeur, B.Ronke.

Goals: A.Boyse 4, C.Jones 3, A.McLeod 2, B.Ronke 2, T.Sullivan, N.Kazuro, T.Cartledge, M.Hannan, S.Clarke, T.Gleeson.

On Sunday St Bernard’s defeated Old Trinity to win its third Premier A Grade Premiership. The decision by the VAFA to hold the Grand Final at Ikon Park proved to be a winner. A big crowd provided a fantastic atmosphere for what was rated by some of the VAFA stalwarts as one of the great grand finals in VAFA history. St Bernard’s and Old Trinity had finished the home and away season three games clear of the rest of the Premier competition and deserved their place in the Grand Final. Their clashes during the season were all nail biters; Trinity winning the first by 5 points, St.Bernard’s the second, by 6 points and then Trinity winning the Second Semi by 7 points. Following the script, it was our turn and remarkably the 8 point win to St Bernard’s completed this wonderful story.

The first quarter was tight with both sides having their moments. But significantly for St Bernard’s, Alex Boyse took one of his trademark grabs to signal that he was ‘on’.  St Bernard’s won the second quarter kicking six goals to Trinity’s four. The game looked to be swinging St Bernard’s way. Our rucks, Clarke and Cartledge were winning in the middle and Boyse, Jones and Gleeson were big targets down forward. But against a quality opposition like Trinity you can never think you’ve got it won until the final siren sounds.

In the third quarter they came out with all guns blazing and kicked seven goals to St Bernard’s three. Their precision kicking into their forward line was proving to be a nightmare for our backline. Added to that, some lucky bounces handed them opportunities and OT’s quality forwards/mids took every opportunity. Importantly two late third quarter goals to St Bernard’s saw Trinity’s lead cut to a solitary goal at three quarter time. At this point nobody could predict the final result.

The first half of the final quarter was Trinity’s. At approximately the 15 minute mark, a Harry Tinney mark on their 50 metre line must have started the Trinity supporters thinking that they had it. But his kick dropped short and all of sudden the tide started to swing. Anthony Rock had said at half time that he was happy to hear the opposition say that they thought they were fitter than us. And sure enough, it was St Bernard’s players who started to run hard, get their heads over the ball and win the decisive contests. Old Trinity started to look like a side that were just hanging on. Mitch Hannan was playing the quarter of his life, he was everywhere. Tom Sullivan, Adam Bentick and Ben Ronke were unstoppable. When Chris Peart broke clear of a pack and Alex Boyse took a fantastic mark, the St Bernard’s supporters went wild. He kicked truly and we were in front! In the blink of an eye, we had it in our forward line again and Tommy Sullivan weaved some of his magic to slam another one home. Trinity managed to get the ball forward again, but an amazing “touch” by Marcus De Leur ensured only a point resulted.  OT still had some belief, being only 7 points down. But it was not to be. Their glimmer of hope was snuffed out when Bernard’s went “coast to coast” from the resultant kick-in.  Michael Caven found Mitch Hannan (who was everywhere) who kicked long and found Shaun Clarke; who marked strongly and nailed the goal.  OT got a quick goal back, but a crucial centre clearance by Tom Gleeson, some smart work by Alex Boyse and Ben Ronke, and then a decisive mark by Tom Gleeson deep in the pocket with only seconds to go, and the siren had sounded. It was St Bernard’s Premiership.

Mitch Hannan was awarded the Jock Nelson Medal for best on ground.                   

Congratulations to the players and all the St. Bernard’s community.  It’s been a great journey, and now as the Captain Tom Caven  announced when receiving the Premiership Cup, it’s time to party at the Pit!


Senior Scribe Tony Caven