Girls Switch on to Take Out AFL State Championship

With a snap of his fingers and the words ‘switch on girls’ still clear in their minds, chatty and excited students from St Catherine’s Catholic College continue to celebrate their State win in the Paul Kelly Cup and paid tribute to coach Patrick FitzGerald.

The Years 5 and 6 students went through the zone and regional contest undefeated to represent the Hunter at the State Championship played at Sydney Showground Stadium, home ground of the Giants, on August 29.

Here they finished top of their pool defeating Kiama 36 to 1, St Gregory’s 28 to 1 and finally a draw with Henschke (Wagga Wagga) 13 all.

Their semi-final win was against Terrigal Public School who they defeated 4 to 1 to find themselves facing Henschke in the grand final.

Darcy Campbell takes control of the ball with support from Nellie Constable, Lilly Oliver and Piper Hall.

St Catherine’s kicked the first four goals in the grand final setting the scene for a 32 to 19 victory and the New South Wales title.

Coach FitzGerald was a hard task master according to the girls who say many of their school breaks were taken up with training.

Dubbed Supercoach, co-captain Lilly Oliver said Mr FitzGerald commanded the players switch on for both training and the games and when he snapped his fingers you had to listen.

What is significant about the win is only one of the players, Quin Nelyand who shared the captaincy role, actually play AFL with the majority of the team coming from touch, netball, soccer, swimming and tennis backgrounds.

Quin Neyland moves forward with the ball despite some determined opposition.

When asked who might be thinking about playing AFL next season and there is an abundance of hands in the air.

Mr FitzGerald acknowledged the support of senior students Chloe Jones and Molly Thomas who knew what it was like to win the Paul Kelly Cup with both being members of the victorious 2019 St Catherine’s team.

To take out the title again five years later is a wonderful achievement and something these girls will be celebrating for a long time to come. 

The Paul Kelly Cup is the largest AFL primary school competition in New South Wales and the ACT.  This year saw more than 10,000 boys and girls from Years 5 and 6 compete.

-Di Sneddon

Celebrating their new State Champions title after competing in the Paul Kelly Cup are St Catherine’s Catholic College AFL team members and their support (back) coach Patrick FitzGerald, Nellie Constable, Georgia Smalley, Felicity bush and support staff Chloe Jones and Molly Thomas, (middle row) Savannah Sproule, Charlotte Holland, Piper Hall, Talie Langdon, Molly Scoular, Sienna Shepherd, Gemma Campbell, Darcy Campbell, (front) Annabelle Gunn, Emelia Graham, Quin Neyland and Lilly Oliver. (Photos supplied).