A SEAN O’Farrell masterclass has led Catherine McAuley College to a convincing win over arch rival Bendigo Senior Secondary College and a home School Sports Victoria premier league football semi-final.
CMC may have replaced CCB on the QEO scoreboard, but the intent from both sides was very much the same as in previous years.
With top seed in the SSV Premier League competition up for grabs, CMC rode an opening quarter burst that coach Lee Coghlan described as “the best pressure football he has seen from a school side” to record a 7.9.51 to 4.6.30 victory.
CMC monstered the Lions in the opening term, with ferocious tackling and chasing forcing the BSSC side into countless skill errors.
Cal McCarty struck first, his snap from a stoppage handing CMC the first goal of the match after nine minutes.
It was then that O’Farrell started to take hold, soccering a goal just minutes later before outbodying his opponent to mark at the top of the goal square and push the advantage out to 20 points.
BSSC, scoreless to that point, squandered two late opportunities – that would be emblematic of its day – to trail by 18 points at quarter time.
The breeze was at the Lions’ backs in the second term but they failed to make the necessary inroads, CMC’s Harry McCormick crumbing to goal just two minutes in to the second term to push the gap out to four straight kicks.
Charlie Robinson then goaled before Alex Jenkyn finally got BSSC on the board from a forward-50 stoppage with five minutes left in the half.
That was before a late 50-metre penalty on CMC skipper Hunter Lawrence gifted Phil Moi Moi a late goal to reduce the deficit to 19 points going into the interval.
The third quarter, however, was to become the O’Farrell show. Much like CCB star and now Western Bulldogs forward Fergus Greene did two years ago, O’Farrell dominated inside 50 for CMC.
He kicked his third from a towering mark just three minutes in to the second half before adding another shortly after to build a 31-point advantage.
From there it was a mere formality. Lions Mitch Goodwin and James Schischka chipped in to narrow the gap to 21 points at the final change, but BSSC could manage just one further goal in the final term through the impressive Hakeem Johnson.
Fittingly, as BSSC drove the ball inside 50 seeking a goal to close the margin to eight points, O’Farrell stood tall and took a defensive mark to ice the game.
“Today was his first game for the year for us and he was the difference in the end. Just his presence up forward, he’s just a smart footballer. Kicked four really important goals, he was phenomenal,” Coghlan said.
“I’m just happy to see him back out there, and Rick (BSSC coach Rick Coburn) is the same, we’re both just happy to see him back playing good footy.”
O’Farrell recently returned from a serious ankle injury suffered in a preseason match.
A former CCB captain, Coghlan admits he still gets a buzz out of being involved in the rivalry.
“It’s just their enthusiasm, as coach you don’t really need to do a lot, you just cheer them on,” he said.
“This is probably the highest standard of footy some of them will ever play. So to see the enjoyment they get out of it is awesome.”
BSSC will travel to play Box Hill in the semi-finals in a fortnight, while CMC will host a combined SEDA team. The winners progress to the state final the following week.
CMC 7.9.51 – BSSC 5.6.36
CMC: O’Farrell 4, McCarty, McCormick, Robinson
BSSC: Moi Moi, Goodwin, Jenkyn, Schischka, Johnson
CMC: O’Farrell, Mittell, Lawrence, Goode, McCormick, Perez
BSSC: Moi Moi, Marciano, Johnson, Goodwin, D. Grace, Jenkyn