How proud Ipswich women broke club's premiership drought
THE Ipswich Eagles are celebrating their first club premiership, achieved by a closeknit group of women willing to learn and who never take a backward step.
As club president and assistant coach Clint Bateman rightly declared after today's grand final triumph it was a wonderful Aussie rules feat.
"A lot of girls are pretty proud girls and they don't just play for the club, they're playing for the city,'' he said after the Eagles upstaged competition leaders Hinterland 6.3-39 to 2.7-19 at Yeronga.
"Hinterland were the dominant team all year.
"The girls just didn't let that phase them and rose to the challenge.''
Bateman said one of the most impressive aspects of the wins was how the women kept improving through the final series after finishing in third.
"I was just blown away with the efforts that they put in all year and just the resilience they've shown,'' he said.
"They played the big games and they just step up.''
The QFAW Division 2 North grand final victory was the Eagles' first in six attempts with the club's senior men coming close in past years without rising above the last hurdle.
The Eagles women changed that, under the guidance of first year head coach Rex Watts.
"We're over the moon,'' Watts said.
"It was a great game, a great win.
"It's just going to do wonders for football in Ipswich.''
Long-time Ipswich supporter Bateman agreed it would boost the women's game.
"Especially with them playing so well coming into finals, we've had a lot of interest for next year from girls from other clubs,'' he said.
Bateman praised Watts for his steadying influence on the women's team after being invited to guide the developing side.
"He was up for the challenge,'' Bateman said, working closely with the footy stalwart.
"Every training session we slogged it out.
"He had structures set early and kept things pretty simple how we wanted to play.
"A lot of the girls are new, still learning the game, so you don't want to overload them.''
In a fantastic team effort at today's exciting Yeronga carnival, Samantha Chisholm was named best on ground.
Watts said Samara Mahoney, Leah Sibbick and Lara Boon were among other stand-out performers at Leyshon Park.
The Eagles trailed 9-7 in the first quarter before stamping their mark on the game in the second and third periods of play.
"They were pretty calm and collected,'' Watts said. "We had to do it the hard way, we had to play every final.
"They come through very strong.''
Meanwhile, the Ipswich Eagles men have to refocus on next weekend's home semi-final against Kedron after losing a thriller against Wynnum.
Although trailing at every quarter, the Eagles secured the lead with five minutes to go before the home side responded to win the qualifying final 79-75.
"We just failed to have that little bit of polish at the clutch moments,'' Eagles head coach Kym Mansell said.
Most disappointing for the Eagles was booting 21 behinds, especially when within range of building a lead over Wynnum.
Wynnum led 15-14 first quarter, 35-28 halftime and 55-43 at three-quarter time before holding on in another game the Eagles lost by under a goal this season.
Having some regular top graders unavailable to play on Saturday, Mansell was hoping for a more settled side for this weekend's elimination semi-final against Kedron at Mark Marsh Oval.
"We'll be right,'' the coach said, expecting players like Mick Lyons and Gary Williamson to return.
Among Ipswich's best against Wynnum were ruckman Nick Barling, centre/forward Keith Brick and Jack Boston on the wing.
Former Eagles regular Aaron Fortescue also made a return for the final.
"We're probably just lacking one midfielder,'' Mansell said, looking to correct that this week.
State of play
QFAW Division 2 North grand final: Ipswich Eagles 6.3-39 def Hinterland 2.7-19.
QFA Division 3 qualifying final: Wynnum 12.7-79 def Ipswich Eagles 9.21-75. Elimination final: Kedron 28.11-179 def Hinterland Blues 5.11-41.
Saturday's semi-finals: Ipswich v Kedron at Limestone Park, Moreton Bay v Wynnum (winner straight through to grand final).