Panmure coach inspires his side over valiant Old Collegians

Panmure playing coach Simon O’Keefe lays a tackle on Old Collegians’ Josh Walsh during Saturday’s hard-fought win by the Bulldogs. 140802LP32 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

Panmure playing coach Simon O’Keefe lays a tackle on Old Collegians’ Josh Walsh during Saturday’s hard-fought win by the Bulldogs. 140802LP32 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

MORE often than not in football, the nature of a team mirrors that of its coach.

Never is this more apparent than the case of Simon O’Keefe and Panmure.

Over a senior career spanning 15 years O’Keefe has given his opponents plenty of sleepless nights.

His blitzing pace and silky skills are obvious to all but it is his want to win and desire to do all in his power to prevail at all times that has stood him apart.

And just when his opponents thought they had him down and out, on would go the afterburners and O’Keefe would turn it all on its head.

Now deep in his third year as coach of Panmure, O’Keefe has instilled this same quality in his team.

On Saturday at Panmure the Bulldogs ran on to the ground coming off their first loss of the season, to Merrivale.

They were without their two key big men in Daniel Roache and James Keane and centre half-back Tim McPherson pulled a hamstring in the warm-up.

Confronting them was an Old Collegians line-up that was desperate to win to stay in the race for a spot in the top three.

The Warriors are a team full of hard heads who love the battle in close and who would have been licking their lips as they ran on to a heavy Panmure Recreation Reserve to begin battle.

And it was the Warriors who made the early running, leading by four points at quarter-time and five at half-time.

This lead could have been more as they had five more scoring shots than the Bulldogs and the majority of the play.

The second half was a brutal affair with bodies crashing into each other as the search for an edge on the scoreboard from both teams continued.

The third quarter produced two goals each, the last of those near the siren from the Warriors’ Daniel Weel giving his team a three-point lead at the final change.

While his team was bravely staying in the contest against a frantic Warriors outfit, O’Keefe was having none of this “near enough is good enough”.

He used the break to give his players an earful that left them in no doubt about what he wanted from them — to walk off the ground with a win.

O’Keefe soon showed it was not just by his words that he was going to get the message across but by his actions as well.

As he has done so often before, the Bulldogs leader found an extra cog as he powered through the middle of the ground with speed, his determination inspiring his teammates to follow his lead.

The Bulldogs had done the hard work to stay in touch but now they had found the spark that would take them to a 9.10 (64) to 5.12 (42) victory, kicking the only four goals of the last quarter.

Just as it looked like the wheels may have been wobbling with finals just a fortnight away, the Bulldogs and their coach again found a way to meet the challenge.

Stars for the Bulldogs were the two Toms: White and Wright.

Early in the game White had been the main forward target for Panmure and had produced the goods with two goals and a swag of contested marks.

In the second half, with his team short of big men,  White went into the ruck and provided plenty of drive.

Wright had started in the back line, showing his versatility by manning up on both tall and small opponents.

With White on the ball, Wright was sent forward to give the Bulldogs an extra avenue in attack, and his two second-half goals were invaluable in his team’s run to victory.

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