By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
Palm Beach Currumbin were oh-so-close to fulfilling another successful mission into the finals in 2021 and the pre-mature end to the season due to COVID didn’t do them any favours.
Its final game of the season, a 21-point loss to the eventual Premiers, Broadbeach; showcased that it had what it took to run with the better teams in the competition and a completed season could have seen it secure wins over Mt Gravatt, Surfers Paradise and Maroochydore to make finals.
After making the Grand Final in 2019 and making finals in 2020; there was great hope within the club under new coach Russell Molony that it could go on and replicate some of that success.
The Lions’ best performance of the year came against Surfers Paradise in Round 12 when it trailed at every change before storming home in the final term to record an incredible 14-point win and hold its opponents scoreless in the final stanza.
When you look at some of the players that took to the field in season 2021; there is a few players that stand-out that showcase the potential of this club; Jed Foggo and Will Bella. These two played VFL football with the Suns and were also part of the Gold Coast Academy teams. Let’s not forget Jed Walter who was a member of the NAB AFL Academy Squad as an under-aged player and one of two Queenslanders as part of that squad.
The trio of players and many more coming through the system across 2021 showcases that this club is a great breeding ground for developing outstanding future talent and while the Senior team didn’t make finals; this young stars were true shining lights.
The team will be led again by Russell Molony in 2022 as Senior coach. He was the 2020 Colts premiership coach. If you look at where this club is heading with its development of younger players to be outstanding contributors at this level; Molony has had a major influence in their growth and development as quality footballers and individuals.
Molony is a key ingredient to generating success within this playing group and he will be well supported this year by Jack Crowley and the recently retired Liam Jones as his assistants.
Liam Jones – Carlton/Western Bulldogs – after recently coming out of the AFL system with 161 games; Jones emerged as one of the AFL’s best emerging backmen in the latter stage of his career. What he will contribute in the backline; and on and off the field is invaluable for the developing players.
Cameron O’Leary – Barwon Heads – joins the club from the Bellarine League in Victoria. He has speed on the wing and is a noted goal kicker and ball winner.
Brad Stafford – maturity and strength in the midfield; just what this group needs.
Jamison Shea – all rounder
YOUNG PLAYERS TO WATCH
With the injection of some class, strength and experience to its midfield; this area as a whole shapes to be one to watch for the club this season.
OPPOSITION TO WATCH AND WHY
Labrador – good recruitment
PLAYER TO WATCH FROM YOUR TEAM
Liam Jones – it isn’t every day an AFL player at the peak of his powers walks through the doors of the club. He adds strength and experience to this list to give it that core strength in one-on-one contests and defensive capabilities. Who wouldn’t want to see him go toe-to-toe with reigning League Best and Fairest winner Jordan Moncrieff when the Lions tackle the Cats in a local derby? That alone is worth neutral supporters making their way to the ground to see.
The Lions are on the right track in 2022. The players that they’ve lost has been covered by the talent that they’ve gained and that alone will be crucial to a much more improved season.
Molony at the helm in 2022 makes perfect sense. To make the leap from premiership success as a coach of the Colts into the Senior role is not an easy one but considering that there is many from that team premiership team that will help build the foundation of the club’s rise up the ladder over the short-to-mid-term future is just what this club needs.
The addition of Jones to the line-up will have more supporters, Lions and opposition come through the gate to watch what he’ll do while admiring the progress that the rest of the team enjoys. There is nothing stopping this list from taking the club to the finals and putting immense pressure on the major contenders.
Do yourself a favour and get your backside trackside to the season opener on Saturday April 2 at home to Surfers Paradise.
The club celebrates its 26 premierships across 61 years and will be the perfect occasion to inspire the current club to build the foundations of adding another premiership to that list.