Against adversity St Kevin’s book another date with destiny

Posted on - Latest News, Premier Men's, Featured

THE script writers couldn’t have asked for a better ending to 2023 with St Kevin’s advancing to a fifth straight William Buck Premier Grand Final, and will face off against Collegians in seven days time.

More on that in a moment.

How did we get to this outcome? On the back of another professional SKOB performance.

Well that’s what you might hear from those who have seen the scores, and maybe watched moments within the game.

What you might not know is on Saturday morning, Callum Matheson ruled himself out with illness. For Matheson to miss, the flu must have got him real good. Sam Cameron followed suit within an hour of Anthony Lynch receiving the call. Straight from the reserves were the two hard-luck stories from the first week of the finals, Jack Darmody and Ben Mansfield. Readymade replacements.

At the conclusion of the warm-up, a third SKOB was to go down. 2022 Jock Nelson Medallist, Tom Jok. A calf-strain saw the star withdrawn from the team. On a hot day with the reserves almost completed, the only replacement left was Liam Gunson. Sitting on the hill recovering from his U19 Saturday morning training session in preparation for that Grand Final next week.

Six senior games to his name at the start of the season, he is recalled 15 minutes before the first bounce. A mad-dash home to get his boots, throw him jumper #38 and the young lad didn’t at all look out of place or overawed by the moment.

As if that’s not enough for Lynch, 20 minutes into the game itself, Phil Edgar, the stalwart pings his hamstring and they move one rotation down. More game time for Gunson.

Despite all of this going on for St Kevin’s, they were able to kick the first goal of the day. However it was the University Blues who took the ascendancy into quarter time with Sam Grimley kicking two of the three goals with the wind during the opening term.

Tom Cutler and Marty Gleeson were on top of their game, looking to send Blues long into attack and repel every foray forward from St Kevin’s. The margin could have been greater had it not been for Sam Critchley taking intercept marks and standing in front of Grimley and Tom Young.

With the warm conditions, the wind blowing to the scoreboard end and a fast Elsternwick Park. Between the second and third terms the scoring dried up, and team defence took centre stage. A performance straight out of the St Kevin’s playbook. As well as University Blues who seemed just as content to lock up the game.

During the second term, it was a wasteful St Kevin’s in front of goal. 1.7.13 with the breeze. Blues held scoreless. Going into half-time St Kevin’s fans were thinking back to the home and away season, twice against Blues they had been in the same position and accuracy in front of goal had left the door open.

Blues unable to fully capitalise during the premiership quarter, only able to add one goal through Tom Young at the 28 minute mark. Nearly an hour between their third goal and their fourth. Regardless, the Young goal put the scores level with one quarter to play.

What proceeded in the final term was a St Kevin’s avalanche. Mitch Wallis kicked his second goal to start the run as part of his best on ground performance. Sam Tucker became more and more involved from the wing with a major, Al Richards joined the party, and when Shaun Kennedy kicked his one and only goal off the right foot the talk started to look towards next Sunday and another chapter in the rivalry of SKOB and Collegians.

To finish the day, Josh Wallis didn’t want to be shown up or outdone by his older brother, finishing with the final two goals to give St Kevin’s a nine goal final term and a 45 point win. This team know no other way than winning. Since going 0-8 in September, they’re now 12-2 with one more box to tick.

The University Blues went through the 2023 season seemingly under the radar, the quiet achievers that moved their way to second spot in the final game of the season. A heartbreaking loss last week forced them into the Preliminary Final yesterday. Naturally disappointed, understandably upset.

Full credit to the way the club has handled itself in the past 12 months. To put behind them a horrific 2022, and produce a top two finish is nothing to be sneezed at.

At the conclusion of the game, a guard of honour to recognise two of the clubs great players. 2019 premiership players Tom Young and Ayce Cordy are hanging up the boots. After 28 games in the AFL system, Young joined the University Blues at the beginning of 2019 to be part of the Premiership team that beat St Kevin’s. He finishes with 51 senior games and 35 goals next to his name. 19 of them coming this year as he became a pivotal part of the forward line.

Cordy goes out as a legend of the University Blues, and a champion of the VAFA. When he pulled on a pair of boots for Blues in 2018, he took the club to new heights with the professionalism he displayed, as well as the hunger and desire he had to win.

Handed the #12 in 2019, he led the club with distinction through their Premiership campaign and has been the captain for 61 of his 79 games. A 2x Woodrow Medal winner in back to back years of 2018 and 2019. He is everything the competition stands for, a widely respected and loved member of the VAFA.

VAFA Media has always been grateful for the time and energy Cordy has put towards promoting his club to the VAFA community, and for that we congratulate Cordy on a wonderful career.

SO, in seven days time, the Grand Final for 2023 awaits us.

Collegians and St Kevin’s. We’ve been here before. It’s the stuff of dreams for the neutral. For Heriot, Hibbins and the Collegians clan it’s an opportunity to rewrite history. For Lynch, Mount and the boys of the TH King, it’s the moment they can cage the Lions for a third time on the biggest stage.

The storylines will be unpacked and told throughout the week. For now, congratulations to both sides on getting there. It’s hard to say we didn’t see this coming a fortnight ago when the final four was locked in. All that’s left now is to set the timer and watch it tick down to Sunday at 2:30 PM.