Panther on golden run

By Beth Newman

781 days.

Forty-two matches.

That’s how long it has been since Morningside’s James O’Donnell has been on the losing end of a footy match.

The end of the QAFL regular season marked O’Donnell’s second straight undefeated minor premiership season, having gone through with the Panthers’ undefeated reserves side last year.

His streak stretched beyond 2013, though, with the young ruckman also claiming a premiership with the U18 side in 2012, after five straight wins finished off their year.

In fact, the Coorparoo junior has not finished a season without a hand on the premiership cup since he came to the Panthers in 2012 and is a poster boy for a club pathway, having progressed through the ranks into the senior team this year.

The 20 year-old puts his golden run down to some good timing and bit of good fortune.

“I think I’ve been pretty lucky to be a part of Morningside and peaked that he right time,” he said.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be coming through the ranks (now).

“There’s definitely more of a winning culture at Morningside and that’s one of the drawcards of playing here.”

O’Donnell has played all but one senior game for the Panthers this season and he says having the opportunity to play alongside some of the club’s most successful representatives is an added bonus.

“It just gives you a whole lot of confidence when you can run out (with those guys),” he said.

“At first, I was really nervous about pulling on the jumper and playing senior footy and hadn’t had that experience.

“When you run out (with them), it makes you stick your chest out a bit and as well as being great footy players – great assistant coaches on the field.”

While many players never taste premiership success, let alone an undefeated campaign, O’Donnell is on the verge of completing the near impossible two years in a row, and said last year’s journey had certainly helped prepare for 2014.

“There’s a lot of talk about complacency, though that’s more outside the group in that in side,” he said.

That experience of coming into a finals series undefeated can only help.”

O’Donnell said he hadn’t considered the possibility of his own personal trifecta, but it would be a nice feather in his cap.

“There’s not many that would be able to do that sort of thing and be able to play in great teams in that sort of progression,’ he said.

“I’m not locking it in, we just have to get there and win.”

The Panthers ruckman will have the chance to stretch his streak when Morningside faces Palm Beach for a QAFL grand final spot on Saturday.

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