PALM Beach-Currumbin’s most successful coach Craig O’Brien has confirmed Saturday’s Pineapple Hotel Cup grand final was his last in charge of the Lions.
By Terry Wilson
O’Brien ended a five-season stay with the Lions basically because of family commitments on top of his work in central Queensland.
And it was a sad departure on the back of a 66-point drubbing at the hands of Noosa.
It was not just the result that hurt O’Brien, the fact he was reported twice made it all the harder to accept a horror day at the office.
But reality prevailed for O’Brien in making his decision.
Most of the season he had been ‘coaching by correspondence’, not being able to get to training and leaving that side of things up to the likes of assistant Darren Beaufoy.
He had been flying back to the Gold Coast for match days.
O’Brien announced at the end of last year that he was quitting, but was enticed to stay on with the promise of extra support staff, not to mention a strong off-season recruiting drive that brought many quality players to Salk Oval.
This time, though, he is serious, after coaching stints with St George in Sydney, Broadbeach and Palm Beach.
“With a young family and my work commitments up in Gladstone, it is time,” he said. “I’ve coached from the week I retired from the AFL and that’s 11 years now.
“There comes a time when you have to get out, so I can confirm I definitely will not be coaching down there (the Gold Coast) next year.”
In his five seasons at Salk Oval, O’Brien-coach sides featured in two winning premierships (2007, 2009), a grand final loss (by three points) in 2008 and a fifth placing in 2010.
There also appears to be another gaping hole for the Lions to fill in 2012.
Co-captain and multiple premiership winner Matt Carroll also gave every indication that Saturday’s game was his last.