By Ashleigh McIntosh
Queensland Sunfire’s third ranked finish in Division 1 of the AFL Female Championships last week was complemented by up-and-comer Katie Brennan and stalwart Jo Butland gaining All-Australian selection.
The podium finish was enough to solidify Queensland’s spot in Division 1 for next year’s tournament behind Western Australia and competition powerhouse Victoria.
Modest in her acceptance of the All-Australian honour, Brennan, 18, was
proud to just don the Queensland guernsey and play competitive football.
“Playing in the Queensland jersey, it’s a big thing,” Brennan said.
“I came away with an All-Australian and I am proud of that but I still think there were a lot of girls that deserved it before me.
“All-Australian is the top thing. It’s the best accolade that you can receive as a female footballer.”
Brennan had only featured in two games in the season proper after rehabilitating an ankle injury, making her national honours more impressive.
Debuting in the national championships at age 16, Brennan has continued to make her mark in women’s AFL nationally.
Sunfire skipper Butland had a different motivation coming into the competition.
Butland proved those who doubted her wrong, showing she can still match it with the younger bodies in gaining All Australian selection.
“They wrote in The (Football) Record that I was on the way out, so it was nice to prove some people wrong,” Butland said.
“Making the All-Australian team, it came as a bit of a surprise but I guess I will accept it and it keeps me going.”
Queensland started the competition on a positive note, leading South Australia by six points at the final siren.
A burst in the midfield led by Brennan and Jade Pregelj allowed Queensland to gain some momentum and eventually move the ball forward and make an impact on the scoreboard.
While Western Australia came out victors in the second game, the Queensland girls kept them accountable for the entire four quarters.
Scores were tied up at the end of the first term at one goal apiece but
Western Australia widened the margin to 27 points at the halfway mark.
Queensland kept Western Australia scoreless in the third quarter, while working their way back into the game but were unable to close the margin with the opposition eventually winning 58-28.
Day three exposed the Queensland side as Victoria ran home with the victory 113-5.
Queensland opened the quarter solidly, matching it with the Victorian team but an inability to capitalise on the scoreboard stalled any momentum.
Victoria’s five goal haul in the second quarter allowed them to break away from the Queenslander’s stranglehold and start to dominate the game.
Queensland held their heads up high for the entirety of the match but Victoria outskilled the northern team.
“(The team’s vibe) was electric at the start. We formed as a team really well and really showed some Queensland spirit,” Brennan said.
“I guess it dropped away a little bit against Victoria. They were a really tough team and it takes a lot of mental toughness to overcome what they throw at you but we still stuck together.”
A third place finish in the competition overall is testament to the Queenslander’s fight and drive.
The distance between Brisbane and Cairns, which splits the majority of the Queensland lineup, provided a major obstacle in preparation for the carnival, only allowing for one full training session before the championships kicked off.
“Considering the distance and what we have to deal with, (Queensland) had a great week. We moulded together very well and Richie (Lyons) did a great job coaching,’ Butland said.
“We wanted to go out there and put a lot of pressure on the teams that we played…Teams knew that we were there.
“We all went out there and had the same sort of work ethic and we all worked hard.”