On Saturday afternoon arch rival Springbank led at every change to reclaim the coveted Jimmy Toohey Shield. In front of a crammed crowd the Eagles struggled to keep up with an organized Tiger team, hell bent on retrieving “The Shield” that symbolizes so much more than the four points earned when the final siren sounds. Close neighbors, work mates, friends and indeed family gain or lose bragging rights until the next encounter that honors a man who influenced both communities in many ways.
Flawless football conditions provided high expectations of a close encounter between two opponents with memorable past clashes. Springbank dominated the scoreboard early with better use of the football. Field kicking again hindered the Eagles’ solid efforts. Unforced skill errors tested the best of patience as players stumbled and fumbled their way forward. The Tigers countered with precise ball use and would have been further ahead at the first break but for a few missed opportunities when kicking for goal. Scores: Gordon 2.4 – 16 Springbank 4.5 – 29.
By half time Springbank’s advantage had increased to 25 points. Gordon’s work rate was unquestioned. The list of statistics indicated near equal sharing of the ball, clearances, inside 50s, defensive efforts. The question was asked, “Why then is Springbank so far in front?” If it wasn’t obvious before reading the ‘stats sheet’, it soon became glaringly clear that Gordon’s poor decisions and foot skills were the difference between the two combatants. Scores at the long break: Gordon 4.5 – 29 Springbank 8.6 – 54.
One minute into the third quarter Springbank registered another goal thanks mainly to an unmanned defensive goal line. From that embarrassing error of judgment the Eagles started to refine their output. Sutcliffe marked strongly midway through the quarter to kick his first goal for the day. Kicks began to find their targets with the ball successfully transferring from defense into attack. A midair soccer like goal to Brad Horsham and a set shot major to Jim Murphy along with “Run with” roles on key Tiger playmakers started to effect the visitors’ dominance. Though the scoreboard still showed a 25 point advantage to Springbank the Eagles believed they were within striking distance of the tiring opponent. Scores at three quarter time: Gordon 7.8 – 50 Springbank 11.9 -75.
Gordon dominated the final quarter gradually reducing the lead held by the floundering Tigers. Springbank’s only goal for the term was helped by a fifty meter penalty against an over enthusiastic Gordon player. Two more goals to Sutcliffe and one each from the dashing Zac Ryan and the hard working Horsham saw the home side within a goal of pinching a come from behind win. The Eagles certainly had their chances to take the lead with missed set shots bringing an unusual combined sound made up of cries of despair and excited cheers. Many supporters looked as exhausted as the players before them. Scores at the end of another breathtaking battle: Gordon 11.13 – 79 Springbank 12.12 – 84.
Best on the ground medal went to Springbank’s Bill Driscoll. President Peter Clifford presented The Jim Toohey Shield to Springbank’s president Paddy O’Neil.
With a bye next week, due to the Easter weekend Gordon’s next game will be against another formidable opponent, Newlyn. This will be played at Newlyn on 20th April.
Hope to see you there
Goal Kickers: B. Sutcliffe 3, M. Spezza 2, B. Horsham 2, J. Clampit, A. Toohey, J. Murphy, Z. Ryan
Best Players: J. Clampit, B. Hallam, M. Gunnell, E. Crackel
Goal Kickers: W. Driscoll 5, T. Finco 3, J. Simpson, M. Lakey, W. McGannon, K. Maher
Best Players: J. O”Brien, W. Driscoll, T. Finco, J. Kennedy, K. Maher