Upbeat Eagles inject new life into premiership bid
FORGET about a coronavirus setback. A competition restart, injection of youth and new leader has the Ipswich Eagles primed to relaunch their 2020 premiership charge.
Long-serving Eagles footballer Chris "Fatty'' Devlin is excited about being able to resume matches, starting with Ipswich's QFA Division 2 North clash against Kedron.
Preparing for that match at Limestone Park on Saturday, Devlin said the mood at recent Eagles training was upbeat after the four-month shutdown.
"If anything, with the break, we've probably gained a lot more because everyone is eager,'' Devlin said. "Everyone is coming back positive.''
Before the COVID-19 stage three restrictions were implemented, the Eagles players had to train in groups of 20.
Ipswich's Senior and Reserve Grade sides can now work even closer together with the competition about to kick off.
Ipswich lost its only Division 2 North encounter by one point to Park Ridge in March. However, with Gympie withdrawing, this year's competition will start fresh from next weekend.
Devlin was keen to see Eagles young guns like Nick Kennedy, Brock Lovell, Jordan Godfrey and Jack Boston build on their encouraging 2019 development.
Kennedy, nicknamed Sticks, is among the fittest in the squad, having come on in leaps and bounds last season.
Devlin was happy to see the club's "next wave'' set the club up for future success.
"The youth is good. It's something that the boys are about to become leaders, which is really good,'' he said.
Devlin, 34, joined Ipswich's elite 250 game club last season.
With a 300 match milestone in sight over the next two seasons, midfielder Devlin is also determined to make a valuable contribution as the Eagles chase an elusive men's premiership.
"As long as I get no injuries, I'll probably end up playing for as long as I kind of can really until I get told to stop,'' he said.
"With the youth coming through, I could maybe see myself playing twos (Reserve Grade) next year and just mentor the young kids. Why not?''
The former co-captain hopes new skipper Tyler Hall will provide an edge in experience to lift the club from regular finalists to grand final victors.
"He (Hall) has brought a lot of knowledge across,'' Devlin said of the former Western Australia premiership winner.
"Just the stuff he talks about, you can see everyone engage. He's a great leader.''
Devlin said Hall had also quickly established himself as a strong clubman.
"That's him. He leads positivity, which is really good,'' Devlin said.
"He's about the team helping young kids and even myself.''
Turning 35 in September, Devlin was doing his own training at his Springfield Lakes home before the team could reunite.
He was heartened by the way his teammates stuck to fitness plans, doing some running and posting their progress on Facebook to create "a snowball effect''.
"I think it's brought everyone very close together,'' he said. "Everyone's bonded in their group.''
Devlin is also coaching an Eagles under-8 girls team this season, maintaining his tremendous service to the club. The juniors also resume next weekend.
The Ipswich Eagles women start their Division 2 North title defence, against Jindalee away on July 18.