ECHUCA’S women’s football team is just four quarters from glory – and perfection – going into Sunday’s NCWL grand final.
Undefeated after 14 rounds, if the red-hot flag favourites needed any further incentive to massacre Mooroopna on Sunday, they got it in spades on Tuesday when the club sensationally missed out on any honours at the league’s awards night.
Overlooked for everything – best and fairest, coach of the year, rising star and administrator awards.
The league’s pacesetter might not have existed for all the interest it received from umpires in the best and fairest never mind the league’s own thinking in other awards.
But coach Mick McInnes dismissed the event saying with 11 of his girls polling in the B&F it was proof he was taking the best and most balanced side into the season decider.
For the only reward he wants — the flag.
Standing in the way of McInnes and his mean machine is Mooroopna, a side which shocked just about everyone when they beat reigning premiers Shepparton in the preliminary final by 28 points.
And McInnes knows his team will be under extreme pressure to deliver on its faultless 2019.
“The game was going to be tough no matter which team got through,” McInnes said.
“We’ve taken steps towards a grand final in the past three years as a group and to finally get there is reward for all the hard work everyone has put in.
“Watching this group develop has been a pleasure and I hope by the end of the weekend they have a premiership medal around their neck.
“We know we’re going to have to do everything right but I’m confident what we’ve worked on all year will hold us in good stead.”
In their previous two meetings this season, Mooroopna have been no match for the Murray Bombers who recorded a 110-point victory in round 2 before following it up with a 95-point drubbing in round eight.
But McInnes said he was expecting a much different Cats outfit this time around.
“The game against Shepparton was the first time I had actually seen Mooroopna with a full side,” he said.
“When we played them they only had the bare minimum which makes it hard to read into previous results.
“Their ability to win the contested ball is extremely impressive but it’s also a strength of ours so we should be able to nullify it.
“If we can get on top in the middle of the ground, I think it will go a long way to winning the game.”
After falling narrowly short of a grand final place last year – losing to Shepparton in the preliminary final – McInnes said his players were determined to not have any regrets.
“You always do have that hunger when you do get so close,” he said.
“From when the siren sounded in that game, this group has been driven to get where others dream of.”