RIVAL coaches and one-time allies Bernard Moloney and Dan Casey met for coffee after the Hampden league season launch, just over a week out from their round-one clash.
Colours and tactics were put aside — this was a social visit.
Moloney will coach North Warrnambool Eagles for the first time today against his former club Camperdown and Casey, his former pupil.
The pair worked together in 2013 — Moloney as Camperdown coach and Casey as his assistant, helping the Magpies to the finals.
A succession plan was put in place which paved the way for Casey to take over ahead of the 2014 season. Moloney felt it was time for a fresh face at Leura Oval after two finals campaigns in three seasons in charge.
He was happy to step away from coaching but the opportunity to lead reigning preliminary finalist North Warrnambool Eagles was too enticing to pass up.
Unlike Collingwood’s botched Mick Malthouse-Nathan Buckley succession plan, both parties deemed this Magpie decision a winner.
Moloney and Casey have a good friendship and healthy respect for one another.
Casey, who is based in Colac, said they talked at least once a week and the Hampden launch provided them with an ideal chance to catch up before the season.
“I tried to find his whiteboard but he hid it from me,” Casey joked. “We always keep in touch and he was really good to me when he was coaching at Camperdown.
“He is a really good guy and I am glad we can put footy aside.
“When he comes around to my place my little girl, who is five years old, they play teddies together.
“When we were recruiting players from Colac last year Bernie would have to be there an hour early to play teddies.”
Moloney said Casey was the ideal person to replace him at the ’Pies.
“I spent three really good years at Camperdown and had great support there and part of that support was putting in a succession plan,” Moloney said.
“It’s really nice now to see Dan grabbing that and running with it. I will be interested to see what changes they have made.
“What footy is about is making friends outside of footy and I did that at Camperdown and at North now as well.”
Moloney said Casey was well-placed to lead the Magpies after a season at the club which allowed him to scope out the competition, standard and style.
“He is a real student of the game and has had coaching experience before and will certainly have the playing group playing for him and certainly demands things he puts in place are carried out,” Moloney said.
“North Warrnambool has put Camperdown out of the finals the last two years and I have no doubt Camperdown wants to put that record their way.”
Casey — the league’s leading goal-kicker last season — will play a key role in today’s game at Bushfield Recreation Reserve.
Moloney said it was imperative the Eagles cut off the Magpies’ midfield supply to the leading forward.
“I think Brendan Murfett will get first crack at him,” Moloney said.
“He’s in great form and is a good defender. Darcy Keast will back him up and even Ben Mugavin is a chance.”
Casey expects to confront a defensively-sound Eagles outfit.
“He likes being defensive and that’s something North will do this year,” Casey said of Moloney’s coaching style.
“They have a pretty powerful midfield and with a couple of key forwards missing, they are going to be quick in the forward line.”