By Matt Fotia
Olinda Ferny Creek still believe they’re a chance of finals action in the AFL Outer East Premier Division after their 16 point win over Cranbourne at the weekend topped off a good month for the Bloods, leaving them just four points outside the current top five.
Last year’s AFL Yarra Ranges semi-finalists have impressed over the past month of football after they challenged fourth placed Beaconsfield away from home in Round Six and were better than the scoreline suggests against an inform Berwick in Round Seven, with four seventeen year olds playing in the senior side that afternoon.
Strong opposition at Berwick yesterday, well and truly out classed in senior football ! For these 4 boys, who are all in their first year out of U16s, the learning opportunities are incredible. The coaching and teaching this year from @brendanjdonovan has been 1st class ⚪️?⚪️ pic.twitter.com/aEBSReNv0a
— Olinda Ferny Creek (@OFCFNC) June 9, 2019
Not only was this weekend’s victory important for the club’s ladder position, but it was a well deserved reward for the efforts of the Olinda Ferny Creek list.
“It’s pleasing for the group because they’ve stuck fat, our training numbers have been up since the start of the year and there’s belief in the group that we can keep moving forward and that we’ll keep improving,” said the 2017 Premiership Coach.
The Bloods have worked their way through the difficult early stages of the season, with injuries to some key personnel, aforementioned inexperience and lack of familiarity within their ranks, hampering their chances of early season victories.
“We were extremely inexperienced at the start of the year, especially in terms of games played,”
“Against Woori Yallock we had nine players with less than three senior games under their belts, along with four recruits who had only played four games for the club – that’s 14 people who have played less than five games together so that makes systems and synergy much more difficult to execute and achieve.”
Winners are grinners. Well done boys!
Posted by Olinda Ferny Creek Football Netball Club on Friday, 14 June 2019
Notorious for being defensively sound in years gone by Olinda uncharacteristically conceded 33 goals in their opening two matches against Narre Warren and Upwey-Tecoma, leading the coach to alter the defensive systems that had been so successful for so long.
The new system has been put in place over the past three weeks against Beaconsfield, Berwick and Cranbourne, with Donovan eager to see how the new set up will fare against their more familiar foes, starting with the high scoring Wandin this weekend, with the Dogs coming off two consecutive shoot-out victories.
“We feel we’re well on the way to unpacking how the South East clubs play and next week will be the first time we get to test it out against a Valley side, so it’ll be interesting to see if it works or not,”
“We’ve started to move the ball the way we want to as well in the last few weeks, so that’s the challenge now to keep improving on that, because we feel as if we’ve got our defence right.”
Despite their slow beginning to the season Olinda Ferny Creek still believe they’re in the race for the finals, with one member of the Premier Division top five likely to have a negative win loss record, giving sides a chance to play finals football despite poor starts to the year.
“Berwick and Beaconsfield have got to come to us and it looks like seven or eight wins might be enough to get you into finals and that’s what we’re looking at, despite our poor start to the year we still feel like we’re in the game.”