Kirwan State High School will look to continue their incredible run of form this year when they travel to Pepper Stadium, Penrith this Wednesday (September 16 at 12.45pm) to take on an experienced Patrician Brothers, Blacktown, outfit in this year’s GIO Cup grand final.
Patrician Brothers are very familiar with performing on the big stage, competing in every Schoolboy Cup decider since 2012, much to the delight of their head coach, Greg Beacroft.
“It’s a great honour to make the grand final again for the fourth consecutive year in such a prestigious and tough competition,” Beacroft said.
“Our only expectation at the start of the year was to train hard and play well every match that we play, so to make the grand final is on the back of a great work ethic and commitment by all our players.”
Despite coming up against some very strong opposition in both the pool and knockout stage of the competition, Patrician Brothers have shown they are a cut above, conceding only 20 points in their five matches so far.
It took a field goal in the first period of extra time by Patrician Brothers five-eighth Jerome Luai to get his side into the grand final, knocking off The Hills Sports High 9-8 in an enthralling contest at Pepper Stadium last month.
Despite having never played Kirwan State High before, Beacroft was full of praise for the school from North Queensland, saying that they present a new set of challenges for his side.
“Kirwan have done exceptionally well this year and have defeated some outstanding teams so far in Palm Beach (Currumbin), Westfields (Sports High), and Erindale (College).
“From the highlights I have seen, they are extremely skillful and very fast.
“Kirwan is going to present a far greater challenge with all their skill and creativity in their team.”
Not only does Patrician Brothers have the advantage of knowing what to expect on the big day, they also have the benefit of the grand final being played just half an hour from their school.
“The players enjoying playing in front of the large crowd (of student),” Beacroft said.
“For half the team, it will be their last game for the school, so hopefully the support they receive will give us an advantage, but the players still have a job to do.”
After a convincing 44-12 win over Erindale College in the semi-final, Kirwan State High earned the right to be the first school from North Queensland to ever make the GIO Cup grand final.
Kirwan State High’s head coach Dave Ackers said he was expecting a very tough matchup against a strong Patrician Brothers defence.
“We are expecting and preparing for a physical game from Patrician Brothers,” Ackers said.
“They are a very good football team that are deserving finalists.”
One member that will be sorely missed on the sidelines will be Kirwan High’s principal, the late John Livingston, who passed away in May from brain cancer.
Ackers spoke very highly of Mr Livingston, saying that while John won’t be at Pepper Stadium in person, he is sure he will be watching over them.
“John is sorely missed by our whole community,” Ackers said.
“(He) was there when this group started preparing in October last year, and he will definitely be there is spirit for the final.
“Although I will not ask these young men to win for John, I will be asking for 110% from them, which is what John would have been expecting from them. All students looked up to and were inspired by John.
“It has been a tough year, but this group of young men have provided something special for our whole school community to be a part of.”
While Ackers doesn’t expect many people to travel down from Townsville for the match, he said he is very thankful for the support his side has so far received throughout the competition.
“We have had massive community support in the quarter and semi-finals here in Townsville,” Ackers said.
“We are very thankful for the support and are aware that all those people won't be there for the final, although they will be supporting from Queensland.”
First published on QRL.com