MERGED powerhouse Lismore-Derrinallum used heartbreak to supercharge an underdog grand final victory on Saturday, declaring its ambition to go “back to back” just moments after lifting the premiership cup.
Still reeling from a preliminary final exit last season, the Demons overcame the odds to overpower Wickliffe-Lake Bolac in the Mininera and District Football League grand final.
It was the Demons’ second premiership in three seasons.
“They made the preliminary final last year, and they were bitterly disappointed they didn’t get there in that season,” coach Jahn Knight said.
“We just thought if we could get a bit fitter, and hopefully have another go and we were fortunate enough to make it. Once you do that, you’re a 50-50 chance.
“It’s surreal. You start early, in very early November and plan for this day, and for it to come off like it has, it’s just an amazing feeling.”
With Wickliffe-Lake Bolac holding an 18-point advantage at half time, Knight said he backed his players’ youth and fitness to come to the fore later in the contest.
He said even though the Magpies were the better team of the first half, he had faith his side could come out on top.
“They had a lot of the play, and they didn’t score goals from out in front where you’ve got the chance to stop them,” Knight said.
“It was mainly around the boundary line so we just thought if we could clean that up a bit, get them on the outside a bit more, make them run and spread them, we could get across the line in the end.”
The Demons booted a match-winning unanswered five goals in the third term to lay the foundation for the premiership victory.
“We scripted that hopefully if it came down to the last quarter, that hopefully we were younger and fitter and that's the way it happened,” Knight said.
“We stuck to our roles, each bloke had an independent role to do. They all pulled it off perfectly.
“Every time we’ve played against them it has come down to who played well in the last quarter. It was very similar in this grand final.
“They got the jump on us early, and we were just lucky we kept that lead – a three goal break – we had to kick a couple in that last quarter to make sure we could win the game. We knew that.”
Wickliffe-Lake Bolac co-coach Joe Otto said his side was bitterly disappointed but vowed to bounce back next season.
“We came into this game with really high expectations and it’s bitterly disappointing to go down in the end,” Otto said.
“Hopefully we can stick together and come back here next season to have another go.”