The long-time rivalry between the Coonabarabran Unicorns and Baradine Magpies came to a head on Saturday, 10 September, in the grand final of the women’s league tag at Gilgandra.
In their second year of the Castlereagh Cup, the Unicorns overcame the Magpies to take out the competition 12-4.
Unicorns coach, Keith “Ducko” Hull, said the team was excited and revved up on the morning of the grand final.
“The girls were quietly confident, but you’ve got to be heading into a hame like that,” Ducko said.
“In saying that, they also hadn’t been in a grand final before, so were somewhat apprehensive as to what was going to happen.
“At the end of the day, they came through - their hard work paid off.”
The team, whose ages range from 16 to “40-odd”, train twice a week for an hour and half - rain, hail or shine.
“It is a credit to the girls, to see how much physical work they have put in and how they have improved in just two years,” Ducko said.
“From last year until now, their skill level has improved and, with experience, so has their understanding of the game.”
Unicorns’ captain, Melanie Jenner, said the team’s fitness had vastly improved during the season.
“You don’t think you can do it - the long, cold nights at training, but the hard work has paid off and winning the grand final proves that,” Melanie said.
“It’s a great feeling to finish on the top of the ladder, but now it’s back to reality.”
Melanie said between the players, they were mothers to more than 30 kids.
“Training and games are a “time-out” from our busy lives - most of us are rushing from work, to training and back home to cook dinner for our families.”
“It’s a relaxed environment and everyone has fun.”
Apart from a few dropped balls, Ducko, said the girls played well last Saturday.
“The oval at Gilgandra was very wet and it did affect us, it was very slippery and slowed the game down, but it affected both sides so no-one was advantaged by the ground conditions.
“We defended really well and kept focussed, and at the end of the first half it was four-all, but we came back stronger in the second half and kept a bit more ball.
“The girls were hungry for the win, and while Baradine played well, Coona was hungrier.
“It was also great to see Baradine make the grand final in their competition debut, they did well to get there and that is a great accomplishment.”
Both Coona and Baradine had huge support from locals who travelled to Gilgandra for the occasion, with banners and cheeky team mascots out in force.
Ducko said it was pleasing to see the emotion and happiness on the girls’ faces after the win.
“It’s great for ladies to have something like this in town.
“League tag is not a brutal sport on the body, it’s good, physical activity and suited for all ages.
“It has also fostered a good team environment and some great friendships have been made.
“However, none of it would be possible without the financial and organisational support of the club and major sponsors.
“We will be back to defend the title next year, but at the moment, the girls are still enjoying the win.”
Coonabarabran Unicorns women’s league tag were well-deserved winners of the Castlereagh League competition, defeating Baradine Magpies 12 - 4 in the grand final played on Saturday, 10 September. Back l-r: Keith Hull (coach), Stan Capewell and Chris Tolley (trainers), Alicia Stanton, Wally Tighe (strapper) Hayley Walton, Cheyenne O’Brien. Middle l-r: Nikki Oliver (manager), Katie Chapman, Karen Weatherall, Rebecca Cass, Linda Stewart, Shannon Mathews, Meg Harris. Front l-r: Jess Skinner, Bec Pickette, Melanie Jenner, Alesha Evans, Lakeyia Wood, Ellie Capewell, Hollee Watts. Kallee Crawley.