St Bernard’s U19 Premier team reversed the 2nd semi final result from 2 weeks ago with an emphatic 46-point win in yesterday’s Grand Final against a gallant St. Kevins.
The minor premiers and form team of the U19 Premier 2014 season opened the game kicking with the aid of a 3 to 4 goal breeze, and took advantage, with a 4.5.29 opening quarter to St. Kevin’s 1.3.9. In a fast paced, physical contest, despite the open spaces of Trevor Barker Oval, the first quarter was a tightly contested affair.
Bernard’s placed a hard tag on St Kevins quality midfielder, De Biase, with Tom del Zoppo limiting the quality midfielders influence. With some crumbing goals late in the quarter capping off a 33 minute opening term where Bernard’s dominated general possession, St. Bernard’s went into the quarter time huddle with a feeling that limiting St Kevin’s scoring opportunities in the 2nd stanza would be critical.
The second term was where the Bernard’s back six really stood tall. St Kevins repeatedly won midfield ball, and spent long periods of play with the ball in their forward half, albeit quality delivery was hard to achieve for SKOB’s in the face of Bernard’s relentless midfield pressure and well organised back six. Considine, Caven, O’Halloran, De Leur and Colaco (Bernard’s main talls) all were outstanding in this quarter, and with Sam Woods and skipper Tom Riley both impassable, and the midfielders and wingmen applying consistent, relentless pressure, the Skobbers could only manage the single major for the quarter. This goal was matched by an important late goal for Bernard’s against the run of play.
A 17-point half time lead and the aid of a 4 goal breeze meant Bernard’s had Skobbers at their mercy if Bernard’s could deliver a true 3rd premiership quarter.
Enter Giacomo Zoccali, who proceeded to win contested ball, provide quality run and usage and really cut St Kevins to ribbons through the midfield in the third quarter. With Edyn Sibbald an excellent target at CHF, with a lot of run from the Bernard’s on-ballers, wings and half backs, Bernard’s again dominated in general play in what remained a fiercely contested game. A 4.4.28 quarter to a single point saw Bernard’s enter the three quarter time huddle with what appeared to be an unassailable 44 point lead; 9.9.63 to 2.7.19.
The stage was set for an epic final quarter, 9 of the 11 goals to the last break had been kicked to the end St Kevins were kicking in the final quarter. St Kevins needed to score early to sew the seeds of doubt in Bernard’s minds; and St Bernard’s needed to bring the sustained and relentless pressure, and a premiership would be theirs.
It turned out that Bernard’s not only brought the pressure, they also started to hit the scoreboard against the wind, and broke out to a match winning 9 goal lead, before some junk time St Kevins goals reduced the final margin to 45 points.
Giacomo Zoccali, who only a week earlier was having scans on a badly injured shoulder, played under duress and influenced the game heavily, to be awarded BOG honours. The coaches could have given the medal to a handful of outstanding players, but also lauded the even contribution from every one of the 24 premiership players.
St Bernard’s premiership success in the VAFA’s preeminent unders competition, U19 Premier, against a very high quality opponent in St Kevins, is the culmination of 4 years focused effort by many people at St Bernard’s OCFC. This junior development focus, and the talent that was on display in today’s U19 Premier premiership, provides the football club with a fantastic base of young talent that will add to the existing, solid pool of senior talent that represented the club so well in Premier section in season 2014.