In the third of a three-part series, we look at the grand final triumphs in SA community football across the State.
BY PETER ARGENT
Undefeated across the season, the United Yeelanna Eagles landed the 2023 Great Flinders premiership flag, defeating Tumby Bay at Karkoo Oval.
Thirteen points down at the long interval, United Yeelanna won by 32 points after kicking nine goals to two in the second half. The final score was the Eagles 15.15 (105) to the Tumby Bay Blues 11.7 (73).
The highly experienced quartet of Matthew Crettenden, Jaxen Norton, Xavier Watson and Casey Carr all were impressive. Crettenden finished with an eight-goal haul, while with Watson racked up 35 disposals to win the best-on-ground medal.
For the Eagles, Dane Habner and Aaron Lawrie were also solid.
For Tumby Bay, Grant Mcleod, Tom McDonald, the mercurial Ky Miller and Ezra Foster all were noteworthy.
The 2023 GFFL Mail Medallist Brayden Martin from the Eagles, broke this thumb and missed the finals series.
United Yeelanna have now won five flags in a row (no footy in 2020 due to Covid), and nine of the past 11 titles, whilst also being on a 33-game winning streak.
Flagstaff Hill returned to the top of the tree in the Southern Football League. Undefeated across the regular season, the Falcons achieved a 12-point win over the Noarlunga Shoes on second semi-final day.
At Flinders University Stadium at Noarlunga in the season-decider, the Falcons controlled the game from the first quarter and won by a handsome 59-point margin, 16.11 (107) to 7.6 (48).
Returning from an ACL injury at the start of the year, genial big man Sam Jacobs received best-on-ground honours, while Michael Shearer, Samuel Smith (with five goals), Adam Bunworth, Bradley Kirk and Nathan Beenham all were strong contributors.
The Falcons were captained by Samuel Tharaldsen and coached by highly-decorated SANFL player Zane Kirkwood.
Zachary Williams, Jake Anderson, Jarrad Liebelt and Josh Beard were the best of the Shoes performers.
Former winner of the Mail Medal in the BLG in 2020, Marc Borholm, playing with the Reynella Wineflies, collected the SFL top individual honour in 2023.
The McLaren Districts A grade made it back-to-back successes in the Great Southern League, defeating Willunga at Willunga Oval in the 2023 Grand Final.
Just two points up at three quarter time, they kicked four unanswered goals in the final quarter to win 12.12 (84) to 8.9 (57).
Sam Lawrie, Tarak Redigolo and Brett Ellis were the stand outs in the McLaren Eagles’ win.
Daniel Marr, Matthew Merrett and Alex Moyle were also important while dual sporting talent, who also played NBL1 basketball each week during the season, Codey Ellison, chimed in with three majors.
Willunga went on a withering run to make the “Big Dance.”
The Demons defeated Mt. Compass in the elimination final by a single point, then Victor Harbor by four points in the first semi, before making the Grand Final by defeating the Myponga-Sellicks Mudlarks by 15 points on preliminary final day.
Evergreen Brad Haskett was the Demons best in the decider, followed by Sam Renney, Nicholas Scanlan, Brett Miegel and Cameron Hutchens.
Victor Harbor’s Jesse McKinnon was the run-away winner of the 2023 GSFL Mail Medal.
In the five team, Kangaroo Island competition, Kingscote came from third spot and the first semi-final to win the A-grade premiership.
After two big victories in the minor finals, Kingscote came from seven points down at half-time of the Grand Final at the Wisanger Sports Club to win by two goals. The final score was the Bloodhounds 11.13 (73) defeating the Western Districts Saints 10.7 (67).
Teenage talent Cain Florance was outstanding for the Bloodhounds, with 2024 Kapunda coach Peter Rolfe, Zak Siemer, Rory Lovering along with former Norwood and Panthers footballer Roland Ah Chee all having their moments.
The quintet of captain Paul Green, Florance, Rolfe, Riley Puckridge and Hamish Hartlett all kicked two goals for the triumphant Hounds.
Wade Tucker, Mail Medallists in 2023 Tate Barrett, Joshua Graham, Timothy Larcombe and SANFL Life Member Bradley Crabb were the among Western Districts’ best.
Saints captain Lleyton Hedges kicked four goals in the decider.
The three Port Pirie teams claimed in the top three places in the Spencer Gulf competition, with Ports Bulldogs finishing third, while rivals the Proprietary/Risdon Lions and Solomontown again played off in the decider at Memorial Oval.
Four goals up at half-time, the Lions cruised to a 32-point victory after an even second half, winning 13.12 (90) to 8.10 (58).
Creative Indigenous small forward Ian Milera was best-on-ground with a four-goal haul, among a host of strong performances.
Solomontown’s Corey Solly was the run-away winner of the Mail and Madigan Medals with 34 votes, with his teammate Jono Hayes second with 18.
Prop/Risdon’s Tyler Eckert was third and his teammate, young key forward Jordan Serle was fourth with 17 and 16 respectively.
West Whyalla came from third position on the ladder and the first semi-final to collect the title in 2023, while dominant ladder leaders during this season, Roopena (15 wins, one loss) were bundled out in straight sets.
The Dragons defeated North by 31 points on first semi-final day, got over the Kangaroos by 17 points in the preliminary final and won the Grand final at Bennett Oval by defeating the Central Roosters by 22 points.
West charged home by kicking five goals to one in the last term, winning 10.5 (65) to 5.13 (43).
Dragons skipper Myles McNamara was the Naish Travis Medalist as best-on-ground, followed by Damien Coyne and Saul Tonkin. Elliott McNamara and Matthew Looyestyn both kicked three goals each for the victors, while Luke Hage also deserves a mention.
Best performers for the Roosters included captain Samuel Ellis, Tim Oestreich, Matt Woolford and Jackson Taylor, while veteran Scott Collison kicked a pair of majors.
The Jim Hewitson Medallist, as the competition’s best and fairest, was Kyle Crompton from Roopena.
After being runners-up in the previous two seasons, Western United claimed the 2023 Western Eyre Football League Premiership with an emphatic win over the West Coast Hawks.
They had one narrow loss to Ceduna Blues early in the season but dominated the competition to win their last 14 games, ruthlessly destroying their opposition along the way.
In the Grand Final, Western United kicked against the wind in the first quarter and led 5.5 to 0.0 at the first break and the game was over as a contest at half-time as Western United boasted a 9.10 to 1.1 advantage.
The Tigers were dominant all over the ground with Tigers ruckman Todd Hoffrichter best-on-ground, giving his midfielders first use of the footy.
Harlee Chandler, Cruz Polkinghorne, the Western Eyre Mail Medallist Jake Warmington, Tyler Mahar and Dwayne Ettridge all had a telling influence.
Battling against the odds Cameron Montgomerie, Lachlan Mcinnis, Tobyn Lennell and Mark Dolling were serviceable for the West Coast Hawks.
In a rematch of the 2022 combatants, Ports defeated Rangers for a second year in a row, this time at Arno Bay Oval.
It is the first three-peat in the Eastern Eyre league’s history since starting in 1989.
A more accurate Ports were eight points up at half-time, 4.4 (28) to 2.8 (20), and held on to win against the inaccurate Rangers, 9.9 (63) to 6.17 (53), kicking a goal after the siren.
Midfielder Jake Turner won the “Quinns Overnight Freight” award as the best-on-ground for Ports, followed by Flynn Paech and cult hero Aseri “Bobby” Raikiwasa.
Ben Lienert, Evan Hunt and skipper Tom Davey were all important as well.
Rangers’ best were the Kenny boys, Jess and co-captain Jack, along with Ree Martin, Jed Burton and other leader Rhyce Beinke.
The EEFL Mail Medal was won by Tyson Jenner from the Eastern Rangers Football Club. He is the younger sibling of current Nuriootpa coach and former Central District premiership player, Kyle.
Leading at every break in a tight contest, Lincoln South collected the Port Lincoln FL premiership by five points on the expanses of Centenary Oval.
Marble Range had again dominated the competition across the minor round and went into the title-decider as favourite.
But Lincoln South won a thriller 10.8 (68) to the Magpies’ inaccurate 8.15 (63).
Hayden Carey was Lincoln South’s best in the decider, getting sterling support from co-captain Zane Montgomerie, Aiden Baker, Connor Madden and teenager Cody Duncan.
South’s Michael Mazey won the PLFL Mail Medal with Jaxon Bennett from Marble Range runner-up.
Seven points down at the long interval of the 2023 Far North Grand Final, Roxby Districts kicked seven goals to one in the second half, defeating Hornridge by 25 points, 10.5 (65) to 5.10 (40).
The Miners were well served by Jeremy Sezun, Tye Starkey-Treloar, Jack Sires, Callum Adams and Adam Jackson.
Both Jacob Bates and Jackson kicked three goals each for the winners, while Andrew Miller kicked three of the Hornridge Magpies’ five majors.
Jack Rigden, Joshua Mewburn, Hayden Carey, Ryan Edwards and Ashley Webster were the Magpies’ best.
The FNFL Mail Medal was collected by Roxby Districts’ Sires with 17 votes, one ahead of Rigden from Hornridge on 16 votes.
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