The boys team from St Therese Catholic Primary School and the girls side from St Columbkille’s Catholic PS Corrimal have qualified for the finals of the Paul Kelly Cup competition in August.
Both schools won through the Regional Playoffs at Dalton Park featuring four Illawarra/Highlands and four Sydney South schools in the Boys and Girls competition.
Both schools played three round robin games before the West Wollongong-based St Therese CPS beat Tudor House PS, Moss Vale 3.4 (22) to 0.1 (1) in their semi-final before beating Mt Terry PS 4.4 (28) to 4.0 (24) in a thrilling final.
St Therese beat Mt Terry PS by just a point in their pool round then backed it up to win one of the best Regional Finals in many years.
The West Wollongong school trailed by three points with a minute remaining and rebounded out of defence to kick the match-winning goal with just a few seconds on the clock.
Meanwhile, St Columbkille’s only scraped through to the semi-finals following two losses and one win in their pool games, but found form with a 4.0 (24) to 1.2 (8) win over Grays Point to make the final.
The Corrimal school then produced their best performance to beat Loftus PS 3.4 (22) to 0.1 (1) to qualify for the SCG Finals on August 14.
“For these girls to come back and support each other from the position they were in entering the finals, it is a testament to their courage and resolve to never give up,’’ Illawarra AFL coordinator Stu Haack said.
‘’It was inspiring to watch and one of the best comebacks I have seen in 10 years of the Paul Kelly Cup.”
It will be the first time Illawarra has been represented in the Paul Kelly Cup finals in both the Girls and Boys divisions in the same year.
‘’This is a tremendous result for the region and shows that the development work done by both the AFL NSW/ACT development staff and local AFL clubs is definitely beginning to show,’’ said Haack.
“The level of skill and competition from local schools has increased dramatically over the past few years. As more boys and girls begin to play AFL locally we see this transition of skills coming through in our gala days.”
“I look forward to seeing our local schools representing the Illawarra, running out onto the SCG with the other winners from the NSW/ACT primary schools.
‘’I think they are in with a real shot and could cause some upsets against, especially against the traditionally stronger southern NSW schools”
More than 10,000 Primary School students took part in the 2017 Paul Kelly Cup, with participation increasing from last year.