HAMPDEN’S junior sides dominated the South West Junior Football Carnival, claiming a double in Hamilton yesterday.
A year after failing to win either grade, Hampden yesterday won the under 14 and under 16 grand finals in the lightning premiership-style interleague competition at Pedrina Park.
Hampden Green started the ball rolling with a 15-point win over Hampden White in the under 14 final, followed by Hampden White’s 13-point victory over Hamilton Junior league in the under 16s.
Hampden White’s under 16 coach Paul “Charley” Farley said the twin triumphs vindicated the league’s decision to field two sides in each grade.
“It’s great for the league,” Farley said.
“It shows that taking two sides doesn’t hurt your chances of winning the carnival and it exposes more kids to the carnival and representative footy.”
Farley was delighted with his side’s performance, winning all but its final preliminary match to Hampden Green, qualifying for the final on percentage. It started well and was never headed, winning 3.4 (22) to 1.3 (9).
He said his players worked and contributed throughout, with North Warrnambool Eagles ruckman Ollie Bidmade, Cobden centre half-forward Charlie Darcy, South Warrnambool onballer/half-backs Tom Dwyer and Josh Wain and North Warrnambool Eagles onballer/half-forwards Zac Bussell and Zac Urquhart standouts.
While Hampden White had to qualify for the final on percentage, in the under 14s Hampden Green went through unbeaten, before downing Hampden White 3.6 (24) to 1.3 (9).
Victorious coach Nick Sinclair said his team of youngsters was upbeat just making the final.
“They were pretty excited before the game to be playing White, because they are all teammates,” he said. “I try and keep them pretty relaxed but they were pretty happy after the win.
“They all played well and we rotated them off the bench and they seemed happy enough with that.”
He said Hampden had made a conscious effort to field even teams.
Hampden White only snuck into the final on percentage, ahead of Hamilton and Portland.
Sinclair, an assistant coach with North Warrnambool Eagles’ under 12s and under 14s, said the key to his side had been even contributions.
“The kids did everything we asked of them, ran hard and gelled together,” he said.
“It picked up every game right through the day. ”
Koroit’s Seamus Brady was among a handful of standout contributors at half-forward, changing ruck-rover with Hawks’ Ethan McLaren, Sinclair said. The coach said Cobden’s Pat Smith and Port Fairy’s Jimmy Conlan were prominent, roving and playing in the back pocket. Warrnambool centreman Matt Schnerring, Hawks half-back Mick Slockwitch, Camperdown centre half-back Dom Cunningham and Koroit key forward Josh Chatfield were also consistent.
St Mary’s Monivae clubmates Andrew Fry (under 14s) and Jack Sutherland (under 16s) capped a good day for the Hamilton Junior Football League being named best players on the votes of umpires.