From Vegas to Ipswich for grand final
AFTER a few flight issues getting home, Ipswich Eagles head coach Kym Mansell is glad to be back for his team's grand final.
He only returned on Thursday from a business and family holiday in the United States to share in his team's latest football achievement.
Having played in Ipswich's previous grand finals in 2004 and 2005, Mansell knows as well as anyone what being in the season decider means.
He relates to the saying: "It's hard to make a grand final but it's even harder to win it.''
After a 22 year senior team drought for the Eagles, Mansell hopes Saturday afternoon's Aussie rules showdown with Victoria Point ends the "long wait''.
Highly-regarded Mansell is proud of what his team has delivered, winning eight games in a row and last weekend's preliminary final over second-placed Carrara to make the major game of the season.
"The way they stuck together and took it on was really, really good,'' he said.
While Victoria Point have been the powerhouse pacesetters in this year's QFA Division 3 competition, Mansell said his team learnt from previous clashes.
"The times we played this year against them, we probably just dropped one quarter (in those defeats),'' he said.
"I'm as confident as I have been in every other game.
"I think we can win it. If we can withstand the pressure for the first five or 10 minutes and create some pressure ourselves, we'll be in for a really good show.''
Another club stalwart Chris "Fatty' Devlin offered similar advice after sharing in last weekend's impressive 107-91 win.
"Just roll the dice. We've got nothing to lose,'' Devlin said, having also played in those previous grand finals where the Eagles were runners-up.
"Be excited, enjoy it.''
And that's exactly why Mansell had to adjust his original flight plans after booking his business trip to the US some time ago.
"I wasn't supposed to be home until next Friday,'' he said. "But two weeks ago when we won the first final, I went straight in and bought a return ticket so I wouldn't miss out.
"I just knew that we were going to make it.''
His family are still in Baltimore and Mansell will return after Saturday's grand final at Beenleigh.
Mansell missed his flight out of Vegas and had to jump on a train to the other side of the airport to board another plane. He finally got his connecting flight to Los Angeles.
Before leaving Vegas, Mansell followed last weekend's preliminary final scores online.
"In the middle of the convention, I was watching it live,'' he said.
"I thought by looking at it, we were going to win by 100 points.''
But with stand-in coach Paul Schoormans in charge, Mansell was delighted the team got the job done.
The Eagles completed their grand final preparation with a short, sharp skills session on Thursday night.
Ipswich has also been buoyed having ever-reliable midfielder Keith Brick in the hunt to win the league's top award - the QFA Division 3 best and fairest honour.
Having won it previously, Brick was in equal top place after 10 rounds with Wynnum's Robert McCoy (13 votes each).
Brick and McCoy were four votes clear of their nearest challengers with six rounds of counting to be revealed at Sunday night's presentation dinner.
QFA Division 3 grand final: Saturday (2pm) - Ipswich Eagles v Victoria Point at Dauth Park, Beenleigh.
How they got there: Victoria Point were minor premiers, winning 15 of their 16 preliminary games and their qualifying final 86-77 over second placed Carrara.
The Eagles finished the regular season in third (10 wins and six losses), beating Carrara 107-91 in last weekend's preliminary final.