By Alice Barker
Townsville have triumphantly claimed first place in the 2019 Northern Queensland Academy Championships for the first time in over a decade.
The home region won out against the other North Queensland regions, and broke the 12-year stronghold of Cairns and Cape York, who had won the event in each year since 2007.
Five teams, including Cairns, Cape York, Capricornia, Mackay and Townville, took part in the three-day tournament.
Townsville’s historic win wasn’t the only history-breaking moment of the Championships though, as Capricornia narrowly beat Cairns in a three-point victory, with Ryan Shanks kicking a goal.
Gold Coast SUNS Zone Manager, Richie Lyons said the competition was a huge success.
“It was great to be able to bring this Championship to Townsville for the first time especially considering the recent floods,” Lyons told aflq.com.au.
“The regions prepared their squads well and the footy played was at a very high level.”
This year’s competition was hosted at the Northern Beaches SUNS facility as the recent floods had affected many of the other AFL Townsville playing field.
Across the weekend, all teams showcased quality football with some stand-out performances from Calloway Parker (Townsville), Ryan Shanks (Capricornia), Reagan Underwood (Mackay), McLofty Gaidan (Cairns) and Percy Peinkinna (Cape York).
From the 120 competing men, 23 players were hand-picked by the SUNS Academy coaching team to form the squad.
Former AFL player and Under 16 Gold Coast SUNS Academy coach, Sam Iles was happy with the team selected.
“We think we have been able to select a very well-balanced side with some exciting taller marking players as well as some speedy midfielders who kick the ball well.”
Following changes in the SUNS Academy talent program, this team will then undergo further training and an Academy Zone Championship incorporating a South Pacific Squad.
These selected players will continue training with the Academy for the remainder of the year regardless of selection outcomes in the following phases.
2019 SUNS North Queensland Academy Squad
|5||Keishon||Hunter – Flanders||Cape York|