WHEN you think of game-changing goal scorers, Taylor Mulraney is the first to admit his name wouldn’t be among them.
But the treelopper/arborist cut holes in North Warrnambool Eagles’ defence as he and his Koroit teammates produced a match-winning burst in the second quarter of Saturday’s qualifying final.
While fellow small forward Ben Goodall was the Saints’ saviour up forward in the first quarter with two of their three goals, Mulraney was central to Koroit’s four-goal burst in the opening five minutes of the second term that set up its 20-point win.
After Goodall and Blair McCutcheon kicked the final two goals of the opening term, midfielder Jayden Brennan kick-started the Saints’ second-quarter charge. He bounced through a goal 92 seconds in, followed by Mulraney, who roved a marking contest and kicked a goal on the run at the three-minute mark. Then 87 seconds later, he goaled after chasing down an Eagle defender 20 metres out from goal.
Goodall topped the dominant opening with a goal on the burst from 50 metres as the Saints surged 29 points clear.
Mulraney, in his first year with the Saints after moving south from Edenhope-Apsley, was one of five multiple goalkickers for the Saints.
“That’s a career high,” he laughed after the match.
In fact, the hard-charging Mulraney had only kicked three goals in his 15 previous matches before Saturday — all singles.
The 20-year-old’s second game — the result of good pressure — epitomised his strong tackling. Anyone who missed it would have been left in no doubt after he laid a bruising tackle on Eagles big man Tom Batten late in the match.
“I would be out the back kicking with dad (Bernard) as a kid and I was told he was a great tackler,” he said.
“I’ve tried to put that aspect into my game.”
Mulraney found his way to Koroit after training with the club while undertaking a pre-apprentice plumbing course in Warrnambool last year. Friendship through work with Saints defender Tim Carter, skipper Isaac Templeton and big man Ethyn Zimmer, ensured he joined the club in the off-season.
Unsure if he would fit in to the club’s best 21, a shoulder injury in the pre-season cup competition sidelined him until round four, but he hasn’t missed a match since.
He said he was excited to be part of a winning finals side.