By James Szabo
Geelong’s St. Joseph’s College will have the chance to stop the incredible run of Ballarat’s St. Patrick’s College, in the Herald Sun Shield Division One Boys Grand Final this Saturday.
St. Patrick’s has won the Division One Shield for the last six consecutive years, making them the most successful school in the competition since its establishment in 1977.
Progressing through to the Grand Final after convincing semi-final performances, the pair is set to run out on the game’s biggest stage when they meet at the MCG on July 30 in a curtain raiser match to the AFL’s Round 19 clash between Collingwood and West Coast.
St Joseph’s coach Chris Lynch says his side is aware of the talent the opposition possesses, but thinks the MCG will play to his side’s strengths.
“St. Pat’s have been the benchmark of school footy for the last six years so it’s obviously going to be a big challenge,” Lynch said.
“The bigger ground will probably suit us with the way we like to play, but I know that’s the way St Pat’s like to play as well so it’s going to be a tight contest.”
If St. Joseph’s are able to produce a win, the team will lift the Shield for just the second time in the school’s history after claiming the title a decade ago in 2006.
St. Joesph’s star Jack Blood said despite being the underdogs, his side was confident heading into the match.
“We’ve had a couple of players come back for this week’s game so we’re looking forward to playing a tough brand of football if we want to compete with the best,” he said.
“Instead of being the hunted, we are really keen on becoming the hunters so hopefully we can apply some scoreboard pressure early and play the game on our own terms to secure the win.”
Booking their place in the Grand Final after a solid win over Mackillop Catholic Regional College, St. Patrick’s captain Hasker Dawborn said the team wasn’t going to rely on its past successes to secure its next victory.
“The group is really excited to be playing in our seventh Grand Final, we don’t really think too much about the games before us, but rather we’re just looking forward to what we can produce on Saturday,” he said.
“We know Geelong is a really good outfit, so we will need to play to our strengths if we want to win the title again.”
The prestigious tournament has provided an opportunity for both male and female students to compete and test their skills at a high level of football for close to 40 years.
In addition, the Herald Sun Shield has also been popular among AFL scouts, with a number of recruiters looking at potential draft prospects – with the likes of GWS recruit Jacob Hopper picked up after captaining St. Patrick to victory in last year’s Grand Final.
The Herald Sun Shield Division One Boys Grand Final will take place this Saturday July 30, at 1.50PM at the MCG.