Murray South East has won its second MAC SA Country Championship after upsetting Southern District in the Grand Final at Port Lincoln on Sunday.
— MAC (@MACofSA) July 10, 2016
By ZAC MILBANK | Twitter @zacmilbank
Murray South East has won its second MAC SA Country Championship after upsetting Southern District in the Grand Final in Port Lincoln on Sunday.
Chasing its first title since a breakthrough victory in 2014, Murray South East ran over the top of its more-fancied opponent with a four goal final term to win by 11 points at Centenary Oval.
Despite trailing by 15 points at three-quarter time, the red, white and blacks managed to hold Southern District scoreless to claim the 2016 crown.
And the rewards didn’t stop there for the MSE outfit which was represented by the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara, Western Border, River Murray and Mid South East Football Leagues.
MSE mentor Adam Merrett was presented with the Bill Murdoch Medal as the Coach of the Championships while former North Adelaide midfielder Brian Fenton was awarded the Don McSweeny Medal as Player of the Championships.
The winning side also supplied as many as seven players in the 2016 Team of the Championships, which was picked across both days of competition on the Eyre Peninsula.
Hosting zone Western claimed third place after defeating Northern by 54 points in the second match on Sunday while Central handed Eastern the wooden spoon after winning the opening contest by 30 points.
1 – Murray South East
2 – Southern
3 – Western
4 – Northern
5 – Central
6 – Eastern
2016 MAC SA COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS AWARD WINNERS
PLAYER OF THE CHAMPIONSHIPS – DON McSWEENY MEDAL
Brian Fenton (Murray South East)
COACH OF THE CHAMPIONSHIPS – BILL MURDOCH MEDAL
Adam Merrett (Murray South East)
Brad Mercer (Central)
U21 PLAYER OF THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Campbell Coombe (Northern)
UMPIRE OF THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Ian Harrowfield (Western)
TEAM OF THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
F: Sam Smith (SD), Brad Mercer (C), Marc Elliot (SD)
HF: Myles Warmington (MSE), Zac Fitzgerald (W), Murray Middleton (E)
C: Matthew Tonkin (SD), Brian Fenton (MSE), Matt Willson (MSE)
HB: Matthew Johncock (SD), Callum Hay (C), Brett O’Neill (MSE)
B: Jay Williams (W), William Rivers (SD), William Hewett (N)
1R: Peter Nelson (MSE), Xavier Watson (W), Campbell Coombe (N)
INT: William Coombe (N), Jesse Kemp (W), Adam Hunter (SD), Sam Pfeiffer (MSE), Nigel Osborn (C), Micah Van Loon (E), Simon Berkefeld (MSE)
FOR THE FULL LIST OF RESULTS FOR THE 2016 MAC SA COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS, CLICK HERE.
— MAC (@MACofSA) July 10, 2016
Southern Districts will aim to defend its SA Country Championships crown when it tackles Murray South East in Sunday’s Grand Final at Port Lincoln.
Southern Districts topped Pool 1 by winning both of its qualifying matches on Saturday, banking an impressive percentage in excess of 200.
Murray South East, looking to emulate its 2014 success, also won both of its preliminary games to finish at the top of Pool 2.
Given both zones have won the title in the past two years, it makes for a salivating match up at Centenary Oval from 2.30pm.
Southern Districts is represented by Great Southern and Southern Football Leagues while Murray South East is represented by River Murray, Western Border, Mid South East and Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football Leagues.
Hosting zone Western will play for third place when it confronts Northern after both teams finished second in their Pools, each posting a 1-1 win-loss record.
Central will face off against Eastern in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon, with both outfits failing to register a win on Saturday.
More of South Australia’s regional centres are set to benefit from hosting the Country Championships as the Eyre Peninsula hosts the 2016 competition on July 9-10.
With Port Lincoln to play host to the Country Championships for the first time this weekend, South Australian Community Football League (SACFL) Manager Matt Duldig revealed the premier event would be circulated regularly in the future.
‘’Playing the Championships in a variety of country areas is a really important part of the event and we are committed to taking it right across the State in the coming years,’’ Duldig said.
‘’The Country Championships is the SACFL’s showpiece event for the year, it brings the best country footballers from across the State together for the weekend to showcase their talent.
‘’This year, Port Lincoln has really embraced the Championships, we are excited to take our premier event to the Eyre Peninsula for the first time.
‘’We have nearly booked out the entire town with 200 players, plus many volunteers, making the journey west.’’
Port Lincoln Football League President David Webber said the region was excited to host the event, with all fixtures to be played at the scenic Centenary Oval.
‘’We’ve just come off the back of a successful Mortlock Shield and there was plenty of talk about hosting the Country Championships – the whole of the Eyre Peninsula is quite excited,’’ said Webber.
‘’We are really looking forward to being able to showcase the town, our venues and our skills as we (Western Zone – Eyre Peninsula) would really like to win.’’
Hosting a large event such as the Mortlock Shield has held the Port Lincoln FL in good stead but Webber said the support from SACFL, coupled with the tireless work by the Port Lincoln FL Operations Manager Robyn Rowsell, had been critical.
‘’The support from the SACFL has been tremendous – they have provided a great amount of support for us,’’ Webber said.
‘’Given the Mortlock Shield is quite similar in size, we have a bit of experience in hosting this sort of event, so having the resources and requirements are not foreign to us.
‘’The support of the local businesses, including the Port Lincoln Hotel which has been a long-term supporter of the Port Lincoln Football League, has been fantastic in helping organise these types of events.’’
With accommodation in the popular tourism destination at a premium from July 8-10, Webber said the positive impact of hosting the Country Championships stretched well beyond the football community.
‘’We have most of the venues hosting the various Leagues or Zones in some form – with the local clubs also catering for them for breakfast and dinner,’’ Webber said.
‘’We’ve got six clubs in Port Lincoln and each of those clubs will be providing their venue for meals so it’s great to have them involved in providing a service whilst showcasing their club to people from outside of the area.
‘’Every year, we obviously have to travel a long way which we don’t begrudge because we love playing in the Country Championships.
‘’Eyre Peninsula is very proud of its football history so to be able to host the event and have the other regions come to our little patch of turf is great for a sporting-mad community.’’
Previously held chiefly in Port Pirie and the Riverland, the Country Championships were held in Port Augusta last year much to the delight of its local community.
Port Augusta City Council Sporting and Recreational Facilities Manager Craig Dearlove said the 2015 Country Championships had left a lasting imprint, leaving the region hungry for more.
An upgrade of the town’s major sporting and recreational hub, including the playing surface, had been viewed as a significant positive.
‘’It really did showcase what we can do with the new $21 million redevelopment,’’ Dearlove said.
‘’A lot of that was at the expense of the community and we were promoting it as an opportunity to get high level sport to Port Augusta and the region.
‘’Having the Country Championships was a great indication of what we can achieve. It also highlighted the fact of where the local sports stakeholders needed to be to host anything at elite level such as a SANFL or AFL match.’’
Similar to the predicted financial benefit in Port Lincoln this year, Port Augusta’s township also received an injection of funds from hosting the large-scale carnival.
‘’There were some financial benefits for each club,’’ said Dearlove.
‘’Football in this community is such an important part of everyday life. It is a cultural thing, we talk about other sports but up here we live and breathe football.
‘’So to have any high level match here is highly regarded by the locals whilst also taking their minds off other pressures currently effecting the town.’’
It looks like there is plenty to look forward to for the Eyre Peninsula folk in 2016 and beyond.
2016 COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE
PORT LINCOLN – CENTENARY OVAL
Murray South East
SATURDAY JULY 9
9am – Eastern v Northern
10.10am – Western v Central
11.20am – Murray South East v Northern
12.30pm – Southern Districts v Central
1.40pm – Murray South East v Eastern
2.50pm – Southern Districts v Western
SUNDAY JULY 10 – FINALS
9.30am – 3rd in group one v 3rd in group two
11.15am – 2nd in group one v 2nd in group two
1.30pm – 1st in group one v 1st in group two
3.15pm – Presentation of medallions and trophies
Gates Open – 8am
Entry Fees – Adults $8, Children aged Under 17 free.
Parking – Limited parking at Centenary Oval
Food – Canteen and barbecue available