MASKELL Medal-winning onballer Joe Dare and ruck recruit Marcus Hickey are the latest players to leave Hampden league aspirant Cobden.
Dare has signed with Geelong Football League club Colac, while Hickey has returned to home club Timboon Demons for season 2014.
The departures follow that of three Bombers who have taken on coaching roles elsewhere.
Daryl Beechey will lead Old Collegians and Aidan Cole is at the helm of Nirranda, both in the Warrnambool and District league.
Adam Courtney will embark on his coaching career with Colac and District league club Simpson, where he played for five seasons.
Colac coach Paul Lynch said he was rapt to secure the signature of Dare, a one-time rookie at AFL club Carlton and former Geelong Falcons best and fairest.
Lynch revealed he chased Dare last season, before he recommitted for another campaign with the Bombers.
“He’s got a pretty big connection with Colac because all his mates play there,” he said.
“I initially sounded him out. I had talked through Jimmy Linton and my nephew (Ben Lynch) who are pretty good mates with him.
“I rang Joey last year as well. I had a lengthy conversation with him about footy. He was pretty keen to get success with his mates and a lot are at Colac.”
Lynch said he expected Dare would be “in the top three” players at Colac — “you don’t end up on an AFL list if you can’t play”.
“He’ll spend time around the footy but at six foot three, he’s tall enough to play centre half-back or centre half-forward,” he said. “He won’t be pigeon-holed as an onballer the whole time.
“He’s one of those blokes who can play anywhere and they’re very important to have in your side.”
Dare joins Jarryd Garner, Luke Burnett and Micah Buchanan — the brother of Sydney premiership player Amon — as the Tigers’ recruits.
The productive off-season has raised hopes the side can return to GFL finals, having missed out on the 2013 series on percentage.
Lynch said he was hopeful Cobden ruckman Levi Dare would also join Colac for 2014 to form a dangerous ruck team with Lochie Veale.
At Timboon Demons, coach Brendan Hickey said his brother Marcus would be warmly welcomed back at the club.
Brendan said Marcus had signalled his intent to leave Cobden not long after the Bombers exited Hampden league finals.
“It might have been announced a bit earlier but with Cobden not having a coach, he wanted to let the new coach know first, whoever that was going to be,” he said.
“We won’t make any major decision (about where he’ll play) until we see how our list pans out.
“But we know we’ve got the luxury of using him in the ruck or forward. ”
Hickey said the Demons had re-signed the bulk of their list, except Ballarat-based Jacob Cahill and Sam Hickey, who has retired.