Easts end five-year drought
East Lismore maintained their composure and drive to post their first Far North Coast Hockey mens first grade premiership since 2001, beating Ballina 3-2 in the dying minutes of the fourth period of extra time.
A big crowd was on hand to witness a game played with great skill and with absolute desperation by both sides. Easts opened the scoring courtesy of captain Raymond Rodda and it was the only goal of the first half in a torrid, arm wrestle of a match.
In the second stanza Ballina struck back through Jake Baldry, who converted a magnificent opportunity to put his side on level pegging. They then pushed ahead when Ryan Kilpatrick converted a short corner.
The goal stung Easts back into action and after some great lead-up work from Chris Clark, Dave Willis and Mat Rodda, Daniel Hughes scored from a rebound. Although Ballina were more efficient at controlling possession and field position, their workrate and passion for the win dwindled in comparison to Easts as the game went into extra time.
Dropping two players each five minutes, the teams were reduced to five-a-side as both teams sought the ultimate golden goal. Ballinas Kilpatrick went agonisingly close, rebounding off the post in the 11th minute of extra time, but it was Easts who finally captured the title when Matt Currie capped a sublime performance with the winning goal.
On the night the umpires selected Ryan Kilpatrick as Player of the Match and he received the inaugural Chris Buchanan Medal.
After accounting for East Lismore in the major semi final, Glee repeated the performance to take out their sixth consecutive major title, winning 2-nil.
Glee created the early running, pressuring Easts to defend constantly. And Easts chances took a tumble early when standout defender Karen Eakin was felled with a sickening blow to the face, forcing her off to hospital in the fifth minute. It was the third such head blow in as many weeks in the womens league.
Shaken by the loss, Easts failed to regroup quickly enough and Glees Cassie Douglas found the back of the net.
Easts never-say-die attitude kept them in the match in spite of Glees domination of possession and field position until Douglas scored her second to give Glee a comfortable buffer midway through the second half.
Easts didnt stop trying with Janelle Pittman, Kate Baird, Leah Toovey and Charmaine McGrath throwing themselves into everything, but to no avail.