Falcons finally in big dance
RELIEF was one of the overriding emotions after the Geelong Falcons stormed into their first TAC Cup grand final since 2000 with a runaway 13.14 (92) to 7.11 (53) preliminary final win against Dandenong at Simonds Stadium yesterday.
Coach Daniel O’Keefe, who captained the Falcons as an 18-year-old in 2006, said he had “unfinished business” he wanted to complete after the club’s 17-year grand final drought was broken.
“It feels both amazing but also a bit of a relief as well,” O’Keefe said.
“There was a bit of expectation on this group and so there should be, purely because we’ve got a lot of talent within the group and we feel like we can go a long way internally.
“Me as a Falcon, I missed out on playing in the prelim due to injury. We lost two finals in my year in 2006.
“Now to come back and win two finals, there’s that unfinished business that we’re trying to complete here.”
The Falcons trailed by 12 points at the main break but played with dare and purpose in a defining third term that saw them snare six of the next seven goals to open a 21-point lead going into the final change.
The key message was composure and the home side cleaned up its ball use to slice its way through the Stingrays in the second half.
Cassidy Parish led the charge with 14 disposals in the third quarter and fittingly kicked the sealer 15 minutes into the final term to give his side a 34-point lead.
He finished with 32 touches, while Cooper Stephens (30) and Ethan Floyd (28) were also busy.
Gryan Miers was prolific with three goals and had a hand in almost half a dozen more, while Lachie Noble chipped in with three majors.
“We spoke at halftime about care and composure with the ball and we hadn’t been in a position this year purely because of lack of skill,” O’Keefe said.
“In the box, we felt everything was going right. We were just turning the ball over and giving it back to them.
“If the players didn’t have self-belief before today, I think they’d have to now.”
The Falcons meet Sandringham Dragons in next Sunday night’s decider at Etihad Stadium, with Geelong set to go in as favourite.
“We’ll do everything in our possible powers to get these boys ready to go and I feel like if these boys turn up to play like they did today or last week, they’re going to be hard to beat,” O’Keefe said.
MADE IT: Geelong Falcons’ Lachlan Noble and Tom McCartin celebrate. Picture: MARK WILSON