Western Spirit shines after gloom
LIKE a lot of Ipswich people, Western Spirit coach Nev O’Sullivan had family and his sports club directly affected by the recent floods.
However, the loyal football campaigner is doing his best to stay positive.
As he does what he can for his family, O’Sullivan is also keen for Spirit to tackle their pre-season challenges head on.
Kippen Park at Goodna was swamped by the floodwaters, causing considerable damage and heartache.
That has left Spirit players having to train at the Dale Road facility at Camira on Tuesday and Thursday nights while decisions are made about Kippen’s future.
“It’s getting a little bit difficult because there’s a lot of traffic there because the juniors are starting their gradings and that,”O’Sullivan said.
However, O’Sullivan is confident the new field laid last season will be right for Spirit’s opening Division 1 premiership encounter against Toowoomba on March 6.
“It was a real pleasure to play on, coach and train on,” O’Sullivan said.
“It was a credit to the club to get it the way it was. Hopefully it will come back just as good.”
Spirit has endured a testing pre-season, losing to Merrimac on penalties and going down 3-0 to University and 3-1 to Queensland Lions during the recent Silver Boot competition.
Spirit were also winless in the QT Cup.
However, 6-0 (A grade) and 3-1 (Reserve grade) wins against Park Ridge on Wednesday night gave O’Sullivan a boost as he experiments for the long season ahead.
“It’s all going to plan,” O’Sullivan said.
“I knew it would be hard, especially when we haven’t had much training under our belts.
“I’ve just been picking players and picking sides, not having settled on a formation or team as yet.
“I’m getting closer to it.”
Western Spirit was one of the most successful clubs last season, just missing out on promotion after their return to Division 1.
O’Sullivan is confident he has a competitive unit this season with 30 players vying for spots in the top two grades.
They include classy goalkeeper Chris Morrall and goal-scoring ace Phil Randal.
The squad also features a number of rapidly-improving youngsters, including Joel Hancock, Jay Kitching, Jacob Wagner and Danny Hay.
Spirit’s major losses are player/co-coach Troy Wickstein (retired) and Shaun Kitching (joined Ipswich City Bulls).
O’Sullivan is also linking with new Reserve grade coach Paul Milne, who managed the side in recent seasons.
“We’ve got a good working relationship,” O’Sullivan said.
Before the premiership kick-off, O’Sullivan is planning more trials against Souths United and Rochedale (which could help with Spirit’s fundraising efforts).
Despite the flood disruptions, the Ipswich football stalwart found a positive.
“We did lose a bit of training and that but most of the guys have been helping out (with the flood clean-up). That was probably better training than now,” he said.
“A bit of weight training never hurt anyone.”