Cats end 25-year drought to claim maiden QAFL Flag

By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
Broadbeach is the toast of the Queensland AFL after breaking through for its maiden QAFL Senior Premiership when it took down Maroochydore at Fankhauser Reserve in Southport on Saturday.
In a blockbuster contest played in front of a mesmerising crowd, the Cats and the Roos were both playing for their maiden QAFL flag in a clash between the two coasts; Gold and Sunshine.
With the Roo supporters packed to the rafters at one end of the ground, and the Cats supporters packed at the other end of the ground, it guaranteed that the best of AFL in Queensland was going to be played one a day that would rival, and or exceed the atmosphere of any localised sport in the state, and it was spine-tingling.
Broadbeach went into the contest having played just one game of football since mid-July; a thriller over Labrador in the semi-finals to advance to the decider.
Morningside on the other hand, embarked on a long journey to the decider after taking down challengers Redland-Victoria Point, reigning premiers Morningside and minor premiers Labrador in the space of three weeks in one of the most remarkable efforts by a team finishing in sixth position seen in decades.
With Broadbeach sporting 2021 Grogan Medal winner Jordan Moncrieff at one end, and Maroochydore sporting star forward Mitch Scholard at the other, the game promised an exciting spectacle.
After kicking the opening goal in the Preliminary final against Labrador, Roo Michael Steven repeated the dose in the Grand Final with the opening goal of the game inside the opening two minutes. Scholard added the second goal of the game minutes later, something he had done several times in recent weeks as the Roos opened up a handy 13-point lead early on.
Max Lower injected himself into the game with a goal for the Cats, and Tyrone Armitage added the Cats’ second moments later with a sizzling left foot snapped the fooled and stunned everyone.
With Blake Erickson winning the ball at half-back and Liam Nelson taking bounces off half-back like he was Giannis Antetokounmpo driving from the back half of the court; Broadbeach looked very dangerous as it kicked four-answered goals in the blink of an eye to take a 10-point lead.
With Ben Kethro shutting down Moncrieff at one end and James Gledhill wearing Scholard like a glove at the other; scoring was going to have to come from outside the key forwards and that’s how the momentum went.
Robinson and Laing kicked goals in time-on to push Maroochydore back into the lead by a point in a see-sawing opening term.
 The start to the second quarter was going to be crucial and it was Broadbeach that looked the goods early with Sam Jasper, Ryan Gilmore, and Brad Lowe all adding quick goals to open up a handy 18-point lead.
Jarryd Hill closed the gap briefly to two goals as he, and team-mate Jono Giles continued playing their best football for the finals series. Sam McLachlan did as was expected for the Roos with some outstanding efforts across half-back and through the middle but it came in vain as Gilmore slotted his second for the quarter and Moncrieff added his first and the Cats pushed away to a game-high 25-point lead at the main break.
With the breeze picking up and the Maroochydore come-back expected, Broadbeach was on the back-foot as it failed to kick a goal in the third-term and the Roos closed the gap to 15-points heading into the final change thanks to goals from Giles and Laing.
With Jack Whaley and Josh Govan working tirelessly between the arcs and in the midfield for the Roos, they helped set the stage for an epic final stanza.
The much-talked-about last quarter come-backs for Maroochydore was put to the test, coming in with 15 final quarter wins of the season including two famous last quarters in the finals.
Despite this stat, Broadbeach was second-best in the competition with 11 last quarter wins and came out with all-guns-blazing with Jackson Fisher kicking the opening goal of the final term for the Cats, ending a run of 34-goalless minutes and pushing the margin out to 21-points.
Nelson repelled anything that the Roos could dish up across half-forward with some telling runs and turning defense, Southport VFL stars Michael Selsby and Ryan Gilmore caused headaches on their home turf and Max Lower was unstoppable.
A key moment in the last quarter came when Maroochydore was under-siege trying to clear the ball from half-back; turning the ball over to Ryan Gilmore who thumped the ball long inside the forward 50 to Moncrieff who marked, goaled, and extended the lead to 27-points at the seven-minute mark. This was a massive goal in the context of the game and showed Broadbeach was eager to run over the top of Maroochydore.
The highlight of the game was best saved for Broadbeach captain Josh Searl at the 20.5-minute mark of the last quarter. Maroochydore hacked the ball out of the backline in desperation; and Searl launched horizontally in the middle of the ground for a stunning mark, and you just knew right then, the premiership was theirs and Searl had captured his Grand Final moment.
Broadbeach saluted when the siren sounded and the ball in the hands of Brent Pearson of Maroochydore in the forward line with the margin at 44-points. Players rejoiced, and crossed the mark in the process with a 50-metre penalty paid and Pearson kicking a goal after the siren; one that mattered little as Broadbeach celebrated a famous win.
With many stand-out players across the day, Liam Nelson was judged best-afield and the 2021 Joe Grant Medal winner for Broadbeach.
Maroochydore champion Gregory Stirton was chaired from the ground in his final game for the club; capping off his career by playing in the club’s first-ever QAFL Senior Grand Final.
Broadbeach 4.1, 9.4, 9.6, 14.6 (90)
Maroochydore 4.2, 5.3, 7.3, 8.4 (52)
Goals: (Broadbeach) R. Gilmore 3, B. Lowe 2, S. Jasper 2, M. Lower 2, J. Moncrieff 2, T. Armitage, N. Burton, J. Fisher 1. (Maroochydore) L. Laing 2, M. Steven, M. Scholard, J. Hill, L. Robinson, J. Giles, B. Pearson 1.
Best: (Broadbeach) L. Nelson, B. Chadwick, M. Lower, R. Gilmore, B. Lowe, H. Arnold.
(Maroochydore) J. Giles, S. McLachlan, J. Govan, J. Simpson, J. Whaley, B. Kethro.

Joe Grant Medal – Liam Nelson (Broadbeach)

Picture by Deion Menzies, Highflyer Images

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