Killarney v Terrigal
For the third consecutive season, League Champions Killarney will meet reigning back-to-back Premiers Terrigal in the final game of the 2023 Season and battle for the title of MPL Premiers.
It was another dominant and impressive season for Chris Ackerley’s men who were crowned League Champions for a historic seventh straight time, a feat never accomplished before in Central Coast Football history.
Chris Ackerley, who has been with the team throughout all seven years, voiced how much this significant accomplishment means to everyone involved at the club.
“It’s another huge achievement for the club to make its seventh consecutive Grand Final, and for some of the younger players, it’s their first Grand Final in First Grade. As for some of the others, we will be looking to them to help the younger ones with the week as they have been there many times before.”
Ackerley also touched on what this means to him personally, “As for myself, I’m just pleased that the boys have got themselves to this point again and have a chance to win another Grand Final.”
Killarney booked their spot in the 2023 Grand Final after defeating second-place Southern & Ettalong in their Major Semi-Final. After going down a goal midway through the second half, Chris Ackerley’s side showed their instilled championship spirit to reply almost instantly through dynamic midfielder Jayden Radford.
After 120 minutes of exciting back-and-forth football, the two most consistent teams throughout the 2023 season would be decided in a penalty shootout. Killarney’s goalkeeper Declan Drake saved three of Southern’s four attempts from the six-yard spot to mark the Terriers would be heading to their seventh straight Grand Final.
After having the luxury of enjoying a week off while the two remaining teams battled it out to meet the Terriers in the pinnacle showdown, it was their historic rivals Terrigal that was able to get the job done to ensure these two teams would face off for the third straight year.
“The Terrigal side is a well-rounded side that have dangers all over the park, and like Southern are dangerous from set pieces with the aerial ability of the two centre backs,” stated Ackerley.
“Pete has done a terrific job in continuing what Griff started and has put his own mark on this side, playing differently from previous seasons.”
Killarney entered this year’s Grand Final with an attitude of redemption as the Terriers have failed to win the last two Grand Final meetings with Terrigal as the O’lads were the only side who were able to defeat Ackerley’s side once again this season.
“The 4-0 loss was a kick in the butt that we needed as we hadn’t lost for so long and maybe thought that we just had to show up to win games,” explained Ackerley when reflecting on their only loss of 2023.
“I think it will be a close-fought game with maybe a goal in it. The key for us will be to keep our shape and track there danger players making forward runs.”
Many outsiders expected this to be the match-up for the final game of the year, but it was far from a straight path for this Terrigal side as they would have liked.
Terrigal season got off to a shaky start under new coach Pete Edwards who went down to recently relegated Wyoming in the early rounds of the season. Fast forwarding to the last round of the year, the reigning premiers could have missed out on a top four spot if they didn’t pick up a result against Berkley Vale.
However, once the O’lads guaranteed their spot in the Finals everyone knew that they would be a force to be reckoned with, especially at Pluim Park where they have demonstrated their ability time after time in recent years.
Ahead of the Grand Final, Pete Edwards reflected on his highly successful inaugural year with the O’lads. “Being my first year as the head coach of Terrigal in the MPL competition, I’m of course delighted with how the season has gone. Finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively in the League and now having all teams in the GF is a great achievement.”
“I wanted to bring my experience and knowledge that I’ve gained throughout my coaching career to Terrigal, but it’s always difficult to know how the players and coaches will respond to a different head coach and style at the start of the season. I always believed we had the ability to make it this far and backed myself and the team that we do it.”
“A huge credit must go to Richard and Justyn (21s and Reserve Grade coaches) who have believed in my style and methods right from the start and helped me massively throughout the season and now the three of us will stand together on Saturday in the Grand Finals!”
Pete not only spoke on what this Grand Final means to him but also the club having all three grades represented this Saturday for their respective grade. “To be in another grand final is a huge achievement for Terrigal and really showcases all the hard work the club has put in.”
“The players are obviously all buzzing with excitement to play in the Grand Final at Pluim Park this weekend and I’m sure they can’t wait to get out on the pitch and give their all.”
“I’m delighted that we have all three grades in grand final matches. Strangely, it will almost feel like a normal game weekend for us, with 21s, Ressies and 1st Grade all back-to-back games, and that’s how I’m really approaching the weekend.”
“I’m sure the players will be full of excitement, but for me as a coach, I will just focus on the gameplan and try and help the boys tactically through the match.”
Terrigal will enter this weekend flowing with confidence knowing that they can not only defeat this Killarney side, but when it comes to the grandest stage of them all Terrigal are an extremely proven outfit who have got the best of the Champs in their last two meetings.
“Looking towards the 1st Grade Grand Final game against Killarney this weekend, they are a team that must be given the respect they deserve. They have been the benchmark in the BPL for many years.”
Pete also had high praise for the opposition coach, “Chris is a great coach who has proven time and time again what it takes to be successful. We both get on really well and I have a lot of respect for Chris both on and off the sideline. I’m personally looking forward to the challenge of facing his team again this weekend.”
Saturday is shaping up to be another thrilling exhibition of local football and a confident Edwards believes if his team can stick to their gameplan the Premiers trophy will be staying at Duffy’s Oval.
“The key for us this weekend will be to stay focused on the game plan and not lose any concentration with the excitement of the final. The players will naturally be pumped up and full of adrenalin, but we need to make sure we execute our plans and roles perfectly on the day. Killarney are really organised, hard to break down and can punish you for any mistake you make.”
“We will need to match them physically and make sure we keep our concentration for the whole match. In big games like these, often a single moment can make all the difference. I have total belief in my players and know that when we get the chance the boys rise to the big occasions and deliver some truly wonderful football.”
Match Official – Anthony Kabbout
All Grand Final Fixtures –