After a litany of near misses followed by a down year in 2018, Minyip-murtoa finally appears ready to win an elusive Wimmera Football League senior premiership. The Burras claimed the 2019 minor premiership with an undefeated season and stamped themselves as the class of the league with a host of dominant performances. With the highest scoring offence and the stingiest defence in the league, Minyip-murtoa is a deserving premiership favourite. However, in the finals the side will have to contend not only with its opponents, but the weight of expectations of its supporters and its previous September shortfalls. The Burras were knocked out in a preliminary final in 2015 before consecutive grand final losses in 2016 and 2017 – the first of which was a two-point heartbreaker. While those losses are still fresh in the memory of many around the club, coach John Delahunty said this year’s team bore little resemblance to that of two years ago. “I don’t think we really feel too much pressure or expectation,” he said. “We’ve got a completely different
playing group compared to the couple of grand finals that we lost. It’s a new experience for a lot of people.
“A lot of teams talk about how young their lists are – and that might just be the nature of football in western Victoria nowadays – but I think we’ve managed to blood a lot of players in the 18 and 19-year-old bracket.
“They’ve repaid us in spades; they’ve been fantastic and a lot of them will be playing their first finals games.”
Among the young players lauded by Delahunty were Corey Morgan, Jake Ballagh and Bray Cullinan, none of whom have missed a game this season.
“They bring some of that leg speed we’ve lacked in the past, and their ball handling skills are really impressive,” he said.
“They’ve had a great season individually, but a reason for that is because they’ve been playing the way that I’ve asked in terms of our team approach.”
While the club’s youth movement has brought plenty of enthusiasm to the team, it is some of the veterans who have made the Burras a true premiership contender.
Delahunty and Tim Mackenzie – lured back to the Burras after spending time with SANFL club Glenelg – have a strong presence across half back, intercepting opposition kicks and turning the ball the other way.