What motivates a club that has won three premierships in a row?
According to Koroit defender Dallas Mooney, the answer is simple: “each other”.
“I don’t think personnel has changed a great deal the last four or so years,” he said. “We’re all pretty good mates out there.”
The 27-year-old – whom Koroit coach Chris McLaren labelled the “best back flanker in the competition” – is set to run out for his 150th senior game when Koroit hosts Port Fairy in a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.
Mooney has had to work hard to reach the milestone, earning his spot in the team through diligence in the early days.
After making his senior debut in 2007 – in Saints premiership coach Andrew Foster’s final season at the helm – Mooney played “at least 50” reserves matches before cementing a regular spot in the senior team.
The real breakthrough that launched Mooney into the player he is today came in the 2014 grand final against Warrnambool.
“I played a different role in that one,” he said. “In 2013, when we lost, I was playing fullback, then I started on the wing in 2014.”
Originally intended as a rotation, Mooney performed so well he stayed put, pushing back to be a seventh man in defence as needed.
Since then, he has made the halfback line his home and taken his game to a new level.
McLaren said while the ’14 premiership was “an unreal game” for Mooney, it wasn’t the only final he shone in.
“His preliminary final against Port Fairy last year really stood out,” the Saints coach said. “He had well over 40 possessions. His intercept marking in a really tight game was crucial.
“He’s a very, very reliable player…. (and) he’s just a quality bloke.”
Mooney, who grew up in Macarthur, has played at Koroit since starting as a junior.
He said a desire to play in the highest league possible drew him to the Victoria Park-based club initially – his father, Joseph, had played Hampden footy with South Warrnambool.
When Mooney finished school and went to Warrnambool for university, it was a easy choice to stay on at the Hampden club.