Young Saints ready to tackle 2016

Updated: February 15, 2016
After missing all of 2015 through injury, Damien McMahon is a youngster St Mary's is hoping will step-up this year. Picture: AL PACKER
St Mary's - Damian McMahon

Damian McMahon is among a number of talented youngsters St Mary’s will be putting their faith in this year. Picture: AL PACKER

BRYCE Vincent is well aware success at junior level doesn’t necessarily translate to senior success in the GFL.

The St Mary’s co-coach has seen the Saints dominate the Colts Division 1 competition since it was introduced in 2012, winning all four premierships since the league-aligned under-18 sections were done away with.

However, whether that results in the ultimate prize returning to West Kardinia is the great unknown.

“We’re very conscious that, yes, we’ve had some great success in junior footy, but you can also become complacent with that success and think that’s just going to happen,” Vincent said.

“Maybe what we did a little bit the previous two years, we just thought that these kids would naturally become good senior footballers, which isn’t the case.

“They’ve got to be taught how to play good, hard senior football.”

With that in mind, the Saints coaching structure, which has included the appointment of the highly-respected Troy Mitchell as co-coach, has been built to fast-track the transition of those youngsters.

“I think the talent’s there on the list – the talent’s coming through from the juniors – it was probably just getting the off-field stuff in place, which Troy’s been really good at it,” Vincent said.

“We’ve got Kane Purcell and Marty Christensen involved, some really good football brains, to teach and help the kids take the next step from being good junior players to being senior players.

“Obviously the GFL’s a very good standard and the step up’s as big as it’s ever been.

“There’s not a lot of kids who come straight out of under-18s, or even Falcons footy, and have an impact at senior level, it takes a couple of years for that to happen.”

Vincent says at least six of last year’s Colts team will push for senior selection, while the return of Darby Hider, Kane Higgins, Nick Maishman and Nick Connors from the Geelong Falcons list will also add depth.

Damian McMahon, who spent 2014 with the Falcons, is back to full fitness after a 2015 season marred by injury.

They will also see reigning Falcons best and fairest Harry Kol at times, depending on his Geelong VFL commitments.

“If he makes the list but is not playing he will play for us,” Vincent said.

“Dougy Bond’s in the same category. Sam Dobson’s at the VFL (with Geelong), Ben Dobson’s at Essendon.

“Tom Vaughan, who was best on ground in the Colts grand final, is up at Werribee at the moment.”

Add in the arrival of Ryley Hall from Grovedale and Jordy Duncan from South Barwon, after he sat out season 2015 following a clearance dispute, and the Saints look set improve markedly on last year’s four wins.

St Mary’s opens its 2016 season with a trip to Leopold on April 9.

Twitter: @tom_king79