By Matt Fotia
If you’d offered Beaconsfield two Preliminary Finals at the start of the 2019 AFL Outer East Premier Division season would they have taken the deal?
We’ll never know, but that’s what they ended up with, and if it wasn’t for a pair of fade outs it could’ve been two Grand Final berths.
Here’s a review of the Eagles 2019 campaign.
Position : 3rd / Preliminary Final (11-5)
For : 1570 points (Rank #3)
Against : 839 (#2)
Best and Fairest : Sean Dwyer
Leading Goal Kicker : Matthew Johnson (51)
What went well : In previous years the Eagles have been the younger brother of the big south east three – Berwick, Narre Warren and Cranbourne – and after the opening few rounds of the 2019 season nothing seemed to have changed, as they gave up a five goal lead against Cranbourne in Round One and fell short of the Magpies in Round Two.
But once they got themselves back on track Beaconsfield showed how far they’d come with wins over both Cranbourne (Round Three and Semi Final) and Narre Warren (Round 11) to go along with their four point loss to Berwick in Round Four, where they were arguably the better side.
Those performances, plus their deep run into finals is something to build off for new coach Mick Fogarty as they look to go a couple better in 2020.
What went wrong : The second half of the Preliminary Final will still be causing some sleepless nights for a chunk of the Beaconsfield faithful.
They led Narre Warren handily at the first break (albeit with a wind at their back) and were looking at a comfortable half time lead before the eventual premiers blasted them out of the water.
Whilst a Grand Final appearance may have been an overachievement, that missed chance will still linger in the minds of the Eagles.
What they need : Some extra muscle. The Eagles are good on the outside. Very good. They were well drilled with ball in hand and in defence under Leigh McQuillen. Mick Fogarty will no doubt strengthen that part of their game further.
But they do lack some bulky inside midfielders who can help them with their contested ball numbers on some of the smaller grounds. Add some grunt to their leg speed and they’re good to go.
Grade – A- : Would be happy with a Preliminary Final, but what could have been. Have lost a couple of key players (Verbi and Welsh) but the addition of Mick Fogarty should outweigh that and then some. Watch this space.
Position : 2nd / Preliminary Final (12-4)
For : 791 goals (#2)
Against : 566 (#3)
Best and Fairest : Rylee Nelson
Leading Goal Shooter : Danielle Roberts (353)
What went well : The Eagles don’t have standout star player, who drags them across the line and grabs all the headlines. But they do have an amazing spread of talent with a number of good players across the court, especially through the mid court. They don’t have one match winner, they have heaps.
What went wrong : Just like their footballing counterparts, it was their Preliminary Final loss that will be keeping them up at night.
Leading Cranbourne by three goals at both quarter time and three quarter time Beaconsfield seemed destined to face off against Olinda Ferny Creek in the big dance, before a two goal to 10 last quarter saw them go down by five.
What they need : Just keep sticking to the course. The Eagles were more or less in the Grand Final barring a poor final quarter. They’ve also got some more stars coming through the grades, especially in their B Grade outfit, who cruised to an upset Premiership.
The future is bright.
Grade – A- : Pretty similar to the footballers. So close to a crack at the ultimate success, but in the end a successful year. It’s a good base – now build off it.