Goal is back-to-back crowns
A lot has changed since September 22, 2019.
The world has gone through a two-year COVID-19 pandemic, King Charles III now reigns and Melbourne broke its 57-year AFL premiership drought.
But while so much has changed, some things stay the same, with Goulburn Valley League netball powerhouses Seymour and Shepparton United set to once again face off in the A-grade grand final on Sunday.
Back in 2019, it was the Lions who emerged victorious in a gripping decider, winning 43-34 to be the most recent A-grade premiers.
Since then, the two teams have maintained their positions in the top rungs of the ladder, with Sunday’s match-up one three years in the making.
It is an exciting opportunity for first-year coach Ellie O’Sullivan and her Seymour team.
O’Sullivan said the gravity of being in a grand final was just beginning to weigh on her with preparations now well under way.
“We are so excited. It is only really starting to sink in today and the gravity of playing in a grand final this weekend is starting to get the group very excited,” O’Sullivan said.
“I am so proud of the group to get this far. Our mindset has been the major strength this year and we really showed in the prelim with that crazy lightning break and torrential weather.
“When I look at my team, I know each of them have so much talent, but it’s their mental strength that really stands out to me and is something I think will put us in great stead this weekend.”
Looking back on its premiership triumph in 2019, five of Seymour’s starters from that day will appear again on Sunday, while Courtney Aldous (who was on the bench) and gun mid-courter Casey Adamson come into the side.
O’Sullivan said the continuity in her group and its grand final experience would put it in good stead come the opening whistle.
“We have a bit of experience in players who have played in premierships before and at the elite level as well,” she said.
“I think it is all about preparing ourselves as well as we can and doing all we can do individually and as a team to ensure we are ready to put out our best when we step out on court.
“As a group we have done it before on grand final day and I’m confident we can do it again.”
Seymour and Shepparton United have enjoyed an epic rivalry in 2022, with the Demons leading the season series 2-1.
United’s two victories have both come in the past month, as it prevailed by 24 goals in the final round of the home-and-away season before backing it up with a stunning threegoal triumph in the first semi-final a fortnight ago.
O’Sullivan said she was excited to meet the Demons on the big stage again and hopefully turn the tide.
“It’s exciting (to play them again) and there are no surprises that they are in the grand final,” she said.
“Shepparton United have been top-of-the-table for a really long time and are such a well established team with a lot of experience which would certainly make for a tough game.
“There is a lot to learn from those last two games against them and I think we just have to regroup and do what we do best in focusing on ourselves and staying connected out on court.”
With one last hurdle for the Lions to jump to be crowned back-toback premiers, O’Sullivan urged the Seymour community to get up to Deakin on Sunday and help cheer her side home.
“Our footballers and families have been so amazing over this finals series. I think they’ve been the loudest I’ve ever heard playing netball and it really lifts you on court wanting to do them proud,” she said.
“They are having quite an effect on how we are playing and I cannot wait to see as many Lions fans out there as possible on Sunday.”
● The 2022 Goulburn Valley League A grade grand final between Seymour and Shepparton United will begin at 2.30pm Sunday at Deakin Reserve, Shepparton.