Hancocks build top partnership
Hancocks co-coach Martin Flanigan
MARTIN Flanigan is one of those coaches who rarely has a bad word to say about anyone.
He's respected by many senior Ipswich players, is a strong team person and enjoys encouraging young players.
Those qualities have helped Hancock Brothers develop an exciting core of youthful talent in recent seasons.
However, in his third year back at the club, Flanigan has appreciated having an international player to work with as co-coach.
The return of Jake Burns as player and mentor has strengthened the club's A-grade network.
"I've been really impressed with the way that he's working with the guys,'' Flanigan said of Burns.
"Just his manner and the way he speaks to people. The way he gets his points across.''
With an experienced coach in Flanigan and former Australian under-21 player in Burns, Hancocks have enjoyed one of their most successful top grade seasons in many years.
Hancocks amassed an impressive 45 points in the Ipswich competition, secured the minor premiership and won the mid-season Ipswich and combined competition finals.
"It's been the best year - by far,'' Flanigan said.
However, all the hard work goes on the line in tomorrow afternoon's preliminary final against Easts at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
Losing to Norths in extra-time last weekend was no disgrace, even with Hancocks' high expectations.
However, the message in the team's dressing room was clear.
"We just want to get back to what we do well. That's controlling the ball better and taking our chances,'' Flanigan said.
"We created a lot of chances last week.''
A positive from a solid workout against the experienced Norths combination was that it exposed Hancocks' young players to more finals' pressure.
"Not many of those young fellas have played an extra-time and lose as well,'' Flanigan said.
Flanigan is hoping that helps rising talents like Sam Morgan, Jay Pavitt, Kai Douglas and Ayrton Coolwell, who have been key players this season, along with Smith brothers Nathan and Ryan, and goalkeeper Cade Banditt.
Captain Dean Pavitt's leadership has been important, with Burns often guiding the team from the dugout before joining the players on the field.
Flanigan is hoping all Hancocks' dual registered players are available tomorrow. That's players like Adam McClelland (Commercial) and Josh Davies (Easts) who are still juggling Ipswich and Brisbane playoff commitments.
Regular grand finallists Easts pose a major threat with their "core strength'' in Mantell brothers Chris and Daniel, Tim Woodford and Steve Bayliss. They were in hot form during last weekend's 6-1 elimination final victory over Wests in raining conditions.
Both teams have plenty to play for tomorrow, especially Hancocks who have been in the grand final wilderness for a number of years.
"It should be a ripper,'' Flanigan said.
Today: Ipswich junior grand finals at Raceview
- 9am: E grade girls - Thistles White v Bellbowrie.
- 10.30am: J2 boys - Wests Black v Norths.
- 12.15am: D grade girls - Norths v Thistles.
- 2pm: J1 boys - Norths v Wests.
- 3.45pm: C grade girls - Hancock Brothers v Wests Black.
Tomorrow's main preliminary finals
- 5pm: A grade men - Hancock Brothers v Easts.
- 6.30pm: A grade women - Hancock Brothers v Norths.