KY RED’S finals campaign ended on Sunday to a more determined and hardworking Shepp United team.
Both teams struggled with a strong wind blowing straight across the ground but it was United’s ability to get numbers at the contest which saw them repeatedly push the ball into their forward 50 and set up scoring chances.
Ky looked like it would be missing two key and bigger players with both Aidan Robinson and Jayden Fitzgerald nursing ankle injuries.
However, both took the field and were solid contributors.
Jayden was Ky’s best on ground with another strong defensive game at centre half back even though you could tell he was not moving freely.
Aidan Robinson was playing at full forward with his mobility limited.
He marked strongly from one of our few forward entries and kicked Ky’s only goal of the quarter.
But the first quarter was played mainly in United’s forward half with our onballers Cooper Gentle, Connor Hawes, Sam Elliott, Daniel Anderson and Riley Ironside all being forced to defend.
The backline was under immense pressure all quarter with Noah Ryan, Ky Briggs and Joe Holloway all being desperate.
Cody Harrison tried to inspire his teammates with a great smother on the goal line and a strong tackle to thwart another goal.
But the boys looked shell shocked and it was only some inaccuracy due to the windy conditions that left Ky 19 points down at quarter time.
The boys were asked to lift their work rate and get more numbers to contests.
The second quarter saw the boys lift with Jake Plumb winning the ball several times through determination and his attack on the ball while Charlie Lloyd and Izac Ferguson were both putting the opposition under pressure with strong tackling.
Cooper Gentle was asked to ruck most of the day and was winning the ball around the ground or giving Ky a target out of defence.
Curtis Walsh kept presenting across the half-forward line with Lachy Kerr but Ky was still unable to kick any goals for the quarter.
The backline was again solid under pressure with Jayden Fitzgerald leading the way and Connor Hawes rebounding for us.
Daniel Anderson was winning the ball and showing his skills but with little reward up forward. United had extended its lead to 30 points at half-time.
The boys continued to fight with Riley Ironside, Cooper Gentle and Daniel Anderson getting centre clearances.
Of course the ball doesn’t always bounce your way. Riley burst from the middle and unloaded a long torpedo punt from inside the square.
It looked like it was going to sail through for a goal but the wind dragged it across to hit the goal post on the full.
United rebounded and were again able to play out the quarter largely in their forward half.
The last quarter was a more even contest with the result beyond doubt.
The boys found more room and less pressure up forward.
The ball looked like it was bouncing out of bounds before Cooper Gentle cleverly knocked it back to Daniel Anderson who dodged some opponents to kick a clever goal on the run.
Noah Ryan enjoyed his chance up forward and missed two shots on goal before kicking Ky’s third goal of the game.
Charlie Lloyd then roved a pack deep in the forward line to kick Ky’s fourth.
The boys were all disappointed to lose this final.
However, the positives from their efforts to work together and improve as the year went on is a credit to them.
The team struggled early in the year and it was only their improved form late in the season that saw them sneak into 8th spot on the ladder.
The boys then claimed two more fancied opponents in the earlier finals.
Ky’s goal kickers were Aidan Robinson, Daniel Anderson, Noah Ryan and Charlie Lloyd.
Awards went to Jayden Fitzgerald, Cooper Gentle, Charlie Lloyd, Cody Harrison, Curtis Walsh and Noah Ryan.