The best senior footballers from St. Patrick’s College Ballarat and St. Bernard’s College are preparing to go head-to-head when they travel to Simonds Stadium to compete for the Herald Sun Shield Division 1 Senior Boys Grand Final on Wednesday. Mitch Wynd reports.
St. Patrick’s is out for redemption this season after a heartbreaking one-point defeat at the hands of St. Joseph’s College in last year’s Grand Final broke its six-year winning streak in the competition.
Nick Stuhldreier played in last year’s match, and the St. Patrick’s skipper is determined to avenge the defeat by claiming the school’s ninth shield.
“It was just disappointing – it was awesome to run out onto the MCG and then to go down by a point on the last kick of the day was just gut-wrenching. All the boys were just shattered, we were going for seven in a row, and just couldn’t get there.”
St. Bernard’s, meanwhile, is after its first triumph since 2003, and third Herald Sun Shield title overall since the competition was established in 1977. Their captain, Jake Riccardi says that excitement is building across the school ahead of the match.
“It’ll be good…all the boys are pretty excited at school to be playing down at Simonds Stadium, so I’m pretty sure that the whole school will get behind us and it’ll be a great day for the school,” he said.
“It’s very exciting for everyone involved and especially because the last time we played in the Grand Final was in 2012, but we lost to St. Patrick’s that day, so hopefully we will be able to rectify our last attempt and get the win.”
Playing TAC Cup football for the Calder Cannons (Riccardi) and Western Jets (Stuhldreier), both captains said that representing their school at the highest level was a great honour.
“It’s been tough sometimes to juggle all my commitments, but the Cannons have been really good with trying not to overload me too much, so it’s been really good to be able to play both school football as well as TAC Cup,” Riccardi said.
“Playing football at the highest level at this age such as the TAC Cup competition is a highlight, but having the opportunity to play with your mates in school footy is just really enjoyable, so I’m looking forward to a great battle on Wednesday,” Stuhldreier said.
St. Patrick’s reached the decider after a 93-point victory over Essendon Keilor in their semi-final, while St. Bernard’s defeated MacKillop by 15-points.
The 2017 Herald Sun Shield Division 1 Boys Senior Grand Final starts at 1:30PM on Wednesday August 16, at Simonds Stadium, Geelong.
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