WYCHEPROOF-Narraport’s long wait for a drought-breaking North Central Netball Association flag is finally over.
The Demons, who went into Saturday’s grand final at Charlton as heavy favourites following an undefeated season, survived an early fright, but were unstoppable after quarter time to beat Donald by 25 goals and win their first A-grade flag since 1983.
There were emotional scenes afterwards as players and supporters embraced to mark the end of a 35-year premiership drought.
The grand final appearance was the first for the Demons since their last flag triumph in 1983, under then coach Des Hearn.
Premiership coach Tiarnee Hall said her side had been challenged early by a determined Royal Blues, who were seeking to end a premiership hiatus of their own dating back to 2006, and led at quarter time.
“We made a change and brought on Liv McEvoy at quarter time and she opened the game up,” she said.
“There was a fair bit of pressure on us in the first quarter – they had us a bit rattled early. We needed to find something to calm the nerves.
“But we did it and it’s finished, now we can celebrate.
“It was pretty emotional for everybody – I’ve only been at the club for a year, but I was so emotional too. There were some tears running down some people’s eyes.”
McEvoy, who was arguably the best player for her regular club Colbinabbin in last weekend’s narrow Heathcote District grand final loss, played a sensational two and a half quarters at centre, before returning to the bench late in the fourth quarter.
Her efforts won her the best on court medal.
Hall praised the selfless and ‘team-first’ attitude of the Demons player McEvoy replaced in the midcourt, Suzanna Fawcett.
“She was great and so understanding. At the end of the day she was a part of it and we are all one team,” she said.
“And she got to come back on in the last quarter.”
Wycheproof-Narraport had strong performers in all areas of the court.
Goal attack Georgia Sheahan was McEvoy’s strongest opposition for the best on court medal, teaming beautifully with shooter and vice-captain Nakia Nunn, while captain and league best and fairest Stevie Bibby was exceptional in defence alongside goal keeper Annie Coobs (originally from Kerang).
After falling 20 and 31 goals short of the Demons in their previous two games this season, Donald was always facing a tough task.
It was pretty emotional for everybody. There were some tears running down some people’s eyes.Tiarnee Hall
But the Royal Blues stuck to their task, presented their rivals with some early anxious moments and continued to battle until game’s end.
Vice-captain Lily Brennan was the best of the Donald players with a hard-working game in centre.
It was a fabulous achievement just making the grand final from fourth position, following two finals wins.
The premiership capped a big day for Wycheproof-Narraport, which also won the senior football flag.
In other games, Donald won the B-grade premiership 51-31 against Wedderburn, while the Royal Blues repeated the dose with a nail-biting 31-30 win against the Redbacks in C-grade.
In junior games, Wedderburn won its sole premiership for the day 54-15 against Sea Lake-Nandaly in under-16A, St Arnaud defeated Wedderburn 29-22 in under-16 B, and St Arnaud defeated Boort 17-11 in under-13.