Emotional tribute to Bluebirds loyalty
SWIFTS' leader Kirsty Lenaghan struggled to hold back the tears paying tribute to her team after being involved in another grand final triumph.
Her latest Reserve Grade hockey victory was particularly satisfying for the team's coach and captain.
After a season where Swifts' resolve was tested, Lenaghan praised those who stuck by the club, followed a grand final game plan and helped beat Wests 3-2 in the decider.
"I'm a bit emotional about it today because I don't know how many seasons I've got left,'' she said, having shared in a number of A Grade and Reserve Grade premiership-winning sides.
"To win this one, we had a lot of adversity.
"It was just a tribute to the team to come through.''
Lenaghan, preparing to celebrate her 39th birthday this week, accepted added responsibility after the team dealt with early season challenges.
"We started out with another coach and with a few different coaches,'' she said, playing centre forward in the grand final.
"I had captained/coached for a few seasons and we were trying some options. But in the end, I ended up doing it again.
"I threw the captaincy around all year too then they threw it back to me at the end.
"I guess that's a tribute to the team belief in me as well and that makes me play hard.''
With tears welling in her eyes, she said Wests were the team to beat.
The coach said a few strategies worked.
"Sometimes it does come down to coaching and strategy and I think we stuck to our game plan today and that helped us to get through,'' she said.
That included spreading Swifts wingers out wide to do a lot of running and trying to contain dangerous Wests' vice captain Danni Emblem in the centre.
After a drizzling first half, Swifts led 2-1 before Wests equalised through a 39th minute goal by Shana Smith.
With the scores deadlocked at 2-2 and the rain getting heavier, Swifts suffered another setback when experienced player Megan Bool had to be assisted from the field with a dislocated toe in her right foot.
After Bool left in agony, the Bluebirds battled hard to score a third goal through the unpredictable Janee "Jack'' Choppy before repelling Wests' late charge.
Lenaghan praised Bool for her work at the club. After some treatment, Bool hobbled back to the Ipswich Hockey Complex for the A Grade game.
"That's another tribute to Swifts this year,'' Lenaghan said.
"Megan's leadership through not only Reserve Grade but as the A Grade coach, her consistency with those teams.
"She's a nurse and she's doing long hours and stuff but she's committed and so is the team.
"And I think that team's really come together.''
Lenaghan said Swifts were trying to maintain their senior sides while developing juniors, including the club's D and C grade teams.
Spirited players like inside Courtney Dixon impressed, stepping up to A Grade.
A Grade men: Norths 8 (Nick Maddocks 2, Anthony Woodward 2, Jake Thornton, Shaun Pratt, Steven Ihle, Zac Profke) def Hancock Brothers 3 (Tim Woodford, Nathan Smith, Adrian Cross).
Player of the final: Kyah Andrew-Sharrad (Norths).
A Grade women: Wests 2 (Erin Mackay, Eden Jackat) d Swifts 1 (Selena Taiton).
Player of the final: Erin Mackay (Wests).
Reserve Grade men: Norths 1 (Zac Profke) def Easts 0 from 75th minute golden goal after teams were deadlocked 0-0 after regular time.
Player of the final: Jake Thornton (Norths).
Reserve Grade women: Swifts 3 (Tayla Floyd, Kasey Dixon, Janee Choppy) def Wests 2 (Chloe Axelby, Shana Smith).
Player of the final: Danni Emblem (Wests).
R2 women: Vets 3 (Peita McGovern 2, Rachel Fitzgerald) def Collegians 2 (Laura O'Connor, Kylie Prasser).
Player of the final: Kelly McAuliffe (Vets).
A2 men: Norths Red 4 (Brett Petersen 2, Dave Robke, Jay Petersen) def Bellbowrie 2 (Cameron Cliff, Nick Gray) in shoot-outs. The scores were level 2-2 after regular time.
Player of the final: Shane Nichols (Bellbowrie).
A2 women: Wests 3 (Debbie McDougall, Samantha Lawrie, Andrea Robertson) def Bellbowrie 1 (Shannon Ashton) in shoot-outs. The scores were level 1-1 after regular time.
Player of the final: Jacqui Ashton (Bellbowrie).
Team of the year: Bellbowrie A2 women.