Champions crowned at the hockey
Barbarians clinch Premier League title in thrilling final
HOCKEY: With hardly any fingernails left and a voice hoarse from yelling for an hour straight, Barbs coach Brad Inmon stood staring at the Brent Livermore Field scoreboard in disbelief at full time.
His side had just wiped away four years of heartache in a single match, defeating City Bears 3-1 in a thrilling Premier League grand final.
For a man never short of a few words, Inmon was left stunned into silence.
As the Barbs faithful erupted on the Grafton Hockey Association hill, the realisation of what they had achieved began to set in on the first-time coach.
“This feels unbelievable, words cannot truly describe how I feel,” he said.
“I am just shattered, I am not that far off tears to be honest. To see the boys put in an effort like that, it was just ridiculous.
“I have been involved in pretty much every Barbs premiership, I captained to a win, to win it as a coach is special. It’s right up there.”
It was a high-octane final played at a searing pace with both sides quick to trade blows in the first half.
Barbs strike weapon Laurie Urquhart put his side in front with a crafty deflection in the seventh minute but City Bears had an immediate answer, with striker Mark Pollock putting the finishing touches on a shock attacking move from the restart.
Both sides battled to gain ascendancy in the midfield, with City Bears stars Justin Alford and Brayden Lollback continually threatening to open up the Barbs defence.
But for whatever the Bears could throw at them, Barbs found an answer as the side dug its claws in during the first half.
When Urquhart netted his second goal late in the first half, the Barbs went into the break on a high, and Inmon knew they just had to hold strong in their own half.
“I just told the boys to stick to the game plan, stick to what we have been working on, to make full use of the middle,” he said.
“To Bears’ credit they played their skins out in that final.
“It is always a hard task coming up against them and grand final day doesn’t make it any easier.”
Barbs had to dig deep into their reserves to hold out a pressing Bears outfit in the second half.
A brief melee, which saw two players yellow carded, threatened to blow open the emotions of the game.
But when Barbs captain Josh Wainwright was awarded a penalty stroke which he dutifully put away it was all she wrote for the valiant City Bears side.
Inmon said it was a win that meant more to his side than just the premiership trophy and bragging rights.
“Chris Shipman is leaving us this season and the grand final was all about giving Shippo the send off he deserved,” he said.
“This is great, we can forget any heartbreak from the past, it is all gone now. These boys have just etched their name in GHA history.”
Inmon also praised the efforts of Reece Gaddes who he named best on field.
TIGHT TUSSLE: Barbs captain Josh Wainwright tomahawks the ball toward goal during the Grafton Hockey Association premier league grand final between City Bears and Barbs. BELOW: The happy winners.