Ipswich mates on grand final mission
IT'S the motivation that has served Ipswich well in the past and could provide the grand final winning edge on Friday night.
The Ipswich Flyers thrive on mateship.
However, the latest SEQ Challenge battle at the State Netball Centre provides the toughest test yet for the spirit-rich Ipswich netball team that has won four grand finals in the past nine years.
Competition leaders Western Districts have set the standard this season, giving the Flyers plenty of incentive to produce their best form on Friday night.
For grand final stalwart and co-captain Liz Hales, tomorrow night is all about building on the team's closeknit qualities.
"We've had a pretty good record so far,'' the shooter said, having missed only one of the Flyers' successes the past decade.
"We were saying at training on Monday night what this (making another grand final) meant to us and what we wanted to achieve. And everyone had similar thoughts that with this playing group we feel like we are ready for anything.''
The Sacred Heart teacher offered some sound advice about harnessing any nerves. "One thing that I've thought lots about actually is it doesn't matter what level you are playing at, a grand final is a grand final . . . grand finals are always good fun to play in,'' she said.
"A big thing is to have fun with it. Go out and enjoy it.''
The Flyers went down to Downey Park after leading in the 2015 grand final, a year after sharing the winning high in 2014.
"Coming off losing last year is something that we've all pushed it aside in our minds but it's still there a little bit,'' Hales said.
She said the team's confidence levels were back up after beating Logan with a committed performance in last week's preliminary final.
"We're the underdogs (against Western Districts). We're not going in blind to that,'' she said.
Hales' good friend and co-captain Emilie McInally has played in the Flyers' past four grand final wins in 2014, 2012, 2011 and 2009.
She said the team would continue its pre-grand final tradition by travelling to the State Netball Centre together on a hired mini bus.
"There's quite a few of us that have been playing in this team for years,'' McInally said.
"We always seem to perform well come finals' time and the fact that we've all been there before, I think that's helpful.
"We know what to expect and the kind of pressure that we have.''
However, Friday night's grand final offers fresh opportunities for two of the team's mid-court regulars who need to contain the Western Districts threat.
Former Brisbane West Lions tier one representative player Nicole Grant (nee Cude) is lining up in her first grand final for the Flyers.
"We've kind of got through some highs and lows throughout the season, and we're getting back to our highs,'' Grant said.
"They've got great team spirit and that's what they are all about.
"I'm excited because I haven't been in a grand final for a few years now.''
Grant gave a valuable insight into the team's preparation.
"We have like a group chat (Facebook Messenger) that we all talk to each other on and keep each other motivated through the week,'' she said.
Among the Flyers rising talents are Bridget Cumming, who is preparing for her second grand final. She shared in last year's disappointment.
However, having come through the 16's state league, she provides a shot of youthful enthusiasm alongside the seasoned Flyers performers.
"It's been a pretty good year, definitely,'' Cumming said, studying teaching at USQ Springfield.
"I just learn from all the girls. They are a great bunch of girls.''
The wing/attack was wary of Western Districts having seen what they are capable of.
"They don't have the experience like we do but they are definitely very fit girls and you have to capitalise on every turnover that they give because they don't give many,'' she said, happy with last week's win.
"We really prepared and knew what we had to do to get through. We just really pushed it out in that third and fourth quarter, which we really need to do.''
The Ipswich Netball Association will pay the entry fee for Flyers supporters dressed in green, who arrive at the Mt Gravatt venue between 7.15pm and 7.45pm.
Where the Ipswich Flyers have finished the past nine seasons: 2015 - runners up. 2014: winners. 2013: third. 2012: winners. 2011: winners. 2010: fourth. 2009: winners. 2008: runners up. 2007: runners up.
SEQ Challenge Women's Open Division 1 grand final: Friday (8pm) - Ipswich Flyers v Western Districts.
Flyers squad: Shooting end - Emilie McInally (co-captain), Liz Hales (co-captain), Larissa Hughes. Mid court: Tayla Rosin, Tara Bramwell, Bridget Cumming, Nicole Grant. Defence: Erin Ellis, Tahlia Vandenberg, Melissa Beutel. Coach: Trish McInally. Assistant coach: Kaye Suthers. Manager: Kerry Moore. Statistician: Sharlene Crowell. Assistant coach Deb Bailey and primary carer Gail Lyne helped the team out throughout the season.