IT WASN’T the result they had dreamed of but the Tamworth Swans celebrated a 10-year premiership reunion and the 250th game of club stalwart Dean Finlay at Oxley Bowling Club on Saturday night.
Dean Finlay kicks the Swans out of trouble against Inverell Saints on Saturday (from left) Finlay, Beau Coles (Saints), Brennan Cosgrove (Saints) and Harrison Tibbles (Swans). Photo: Geoff O’Neill 280516GOE02
The Swans lost to Inverell Saints by 43 points at No 1 Oval after the Saints struck early and often to take a stranglehold on the special Swans day and lead by 42 points points at halftime.
It was more of the same in the third quarter too as the visitors extended their lead to 74-17 before the Swans replied with a determined final quarter, kicking four goals to two in what was a 12.16 88-6.9 45 scoreline.
Saints coach Dick Gleeson paid tribute to the Swans’ persistence and pluck to win the final quarter as well as the individual effort by Finlay to log 250 games.
He and his team knew the Swans, despite their lowly position on the table, would provide stiff resistance and he said his side had to produce some gritty football in bleak conditions.
“It was a big day for the Swans, with their 10-year premiership reunion and Deano’s 250th,” Gleeson said.
“He did play well too. He always plays hard.
“It’s a big effort too, 250 games.”
For Finlay, the excitement of sharing a milestone with a lot of former premiership-winning mates made it an extra special day.
Some of the players from the 2006 premiership-winning side had travelled long distances to remember and rekindle some winning memories at the Oxley Bowlo on Saturday night.
“It was a good day,”Finlay said.
“It was good to have a lot of the boys back. Unfortunately we couldn’t win for them but we did play well in the final quarter at least.”
Finlay is 44 and in his 19th season with the Swans.
He’s won three premierships in that time –1999, 2006 and 2009.
“I’m very proud,” he said.
“They let me run out with the kids and then chaired me off at the end.”
He said the highlight for him of his 250-game journey “was probably the 2009 premiership”.
“It was the year after we didn’t make the semi-finals in 2008.
“And we went up to Inverell and won up there.
“Unfortunately we have struggled since then but we are getting better and we do have some good kids coming through like Tom Kelly, Julian Jasper and AlexStewart.”
One thing is for certain though.
“There isn’t going to be a 300,” he grinned.
THIS WEEK (Round 9 – Saturday, June 4): Tamworth Swans v Narrabri Eagles (No 1 Oval, Tamworth), Moree Suns v New England Nomads (Taylor Oval, Moree), Inverell Saints v Tamworth Kangaroos (Varley Oval, Inverell). Gunnedah Bulldogs bye.
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