Tag: darren flanigan

NAB League season preview: Dandenong Stingrays

REIGNING premiers, Dandenong Stingrays are one of a number of sides with a fresh face in the Talent Manager role, as Darren Flanigan returned to the club for the 2019 season. The Stingrays claimed the ultimate TAC Cup glory last year in the club’s sixth attempt, and now under the new NAB League banner, will be keen to build on that momentum.

Flanigan said while he did not arrive until after the pre-season had started – in late November – he had liked what he had seen from the group.

“I missed the start of it (preseason), but I’ve been really impressed with the level of intensity of the group,” he said. “We’ve got some really nice athletes and we’ve got some good size, skills are always a work in progress of course, but the attitude and application of the players has been fantastic.”

The premiership had been a boost to the entire club and described it as “good promotion for the area”. While many of those premiership players have left now, a number of bottom-agers from that memorable day remain. One of them is Hayden Young, the Stingrays’ top prospect and club captain.

“Hayden’s our captain, he sets a really good example, he’s dong a really good job of driving the group and he sets really high standards on himself and his game,” Flanigan said. “I think he’s probably a little bit disappointed in his first practice match, but that was the first bit of competitiveness all preseason so we just know with the kid with his level of professionalism that’ll be just the springboard to a better season.”

One player who played in the premiership last year but spent considerable time on the sidelines due to injury, was co-captain Mitch Riordan. He has returned as a 19-year-old this season and will provide invaluable experience to the midfield group.

“Mitch had a great game last week, coming back as a 19-year-old he’ll do a little bit of work with mentoring the leadership group because he was in the leadership group last year,” Flanigan said. “So that’ll add another string to his bow. “Ned Cahill is our vice captain, he’s also learning from the front, so he and Hayden are setting really high standards.”

Speaking of Cahill, he is currently overcoming some tendonitis in his ankle, held back from testing at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day by Rookie Me.

“We could’ve tested him today but, what does that achieve?” Flanigan said. “He’s got a really long year in front of him with Nationals and we assume he’ll be playing a lot of footy with us, so it’s just a little bit of precaution with him.”

Along with Riordan, the Stingrays have brought back small forward Jai Nanscawen, forward-ruck Bailey Schmidt and medium forward Corey Ellison as the overagers this season. The other 19-year-old prospect this season is described by Flanigan as a “bit of a smoky” in John Roysmith.

“He’s been a boarder at Melbourne Grammar for the last couple years so hasn’t been in the system, but we were alerted to him, and he’s tested really well,” Flanigan said. “He’s top 10 athletically in the club, still got a little bit to learn about the speed of the game, he’s come from playing school footy which is a lot slower than what we play here, so the speed of the game is something he’s got to learn, absorbing all the knowledge he can. “We think he’s a really good prospect, especially for the second half of the year.”

As for expectations, Flanigan said there was good depth across the field in multiple positions and the side would look to make finals in 2019.

“You don’t know with such a raw list, with so few games coming back, we really don’t know how we’ll go, but some of our talls are really talented,” he said. “In this comp you need a good, deep midfield, and I think we’ve got some nice strong bodies around the footy, got a bit of speed around the outside so we think as far as team balance goes, we’ll be okay.”

Dandenong Stingrays’ season begins on Saturday, March 23 at MARS Stadium when they face the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels.

U18 Girls season preview: Dandenong Stingrays

DANDENONG Stingrays have their sights set on fast, attacking football this year, following the recruitment of former Carlton AFL Women’s interim coach, Nick Rutley to coach the side. Rutley coached two games in Damien Keeping‘s absence through illness, and will look to bring that experience at the elite level to the Stingrays. He has teamed up with Female Talent Manager, Matthew Crozier for the year as the Stingrays hope to kick-off how they finished off the season – with four straight wins.

Crozier himself came into the role for the first time last year and said it was fantastic to achieve two draftees – captain Jordyn Allen and Shelley Heath heading to Collingwood and Melbourne respectively via the draft.

“It was a good experience, it was a bit surreal,” Crozier said. “I’ve been in the role for 12 months and watching those girls that played in our team last year that were standout girls – seeing ‘Jordy’ run out there and strut her stuff and look to be a bit of a leader out there amongst the back six was really pleasing to see.”

Crozier said the club looked forward to the girls returning at times to motivate the next crop of AFL Women’s hopefuls.

“We’re looking to (have Allen and Heath return), Jordy has enquired about coming back down to training and maybe speaking to a couple of girls who lead the group,” he said. “We have our camp on the 24th of Feb on Sunday so hopefully we can get her down with a couple of the AFLW girls that Nick’s organised through his connections at Carlton. “But yeah, Jordy’s really a pioneer for what a leader should look like amongst the TAC Cup girls, so hopefully what Jordy’s instilled in the group as a top-ager last year is really going to transcend into our 17 year-olds and top-agers this year.”

The 2018 season saw the Stingrays lose the first five games of the year – often in tight games – before breaking through with a victory against Western Jets at Shepley Oval. That win was followed by three more to end the season with a 4-5 win-loss record.

“I think we knew we had a strong list from underneath, it was just a matter of trying to put all the bits of the puzzle together – we felt that if we had another three games left in the season we’d be pushing for top four,” Crozier said. Obviously it’s not about winning games but as a coaching group and talent coordinator sometimes you get that white-line fever. We felt that we did what we could with the group we had, our main priority was getting as many girls exposed to AFL(W) clubs and recruiters as possible and I feel that we did that the best we could – we look after that and the results took care of themselves towards the end of the year.”

Crozier said the shorter seasons allowed girls to test themselves at senior level in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition.

“It was good because it was a short sort of season and we could really attack it hard, but it was hard with injuries – if you’ve got a soft tissue injury you’re out for half the season,” he said. “I think going forward with the amount of exposure and the expanding of AFLW in the coming years hopefully it will be a stand-alone competition with the TAC Cup boys. “But at the moment for what it is, it’s a really good program. “We’re trying to get the girls back a couple of months after the season to brush up on their skills and make sure that they’re not falling behind – the ones who are coming around next year, the bottom-agers, just so once they go back to local footy their standards are still at a high level and elite level.”

Rutley said he has enjoyed getting back to a grassroots level and adapting to the different styles of the playing group.

“It’s been really good, they’re an enthusiastic bunch which is usually what you get in the female space – they love their footy or their sport in general,” he said. “It’s just getting them to get used to some different terminology, some different ways of coaching – we’ve brought in a little bit of a different look in terms of some different assistants but also, the people that wanted to be involved from last year have stayed on board which is really important to me, so we’ve got a nice little group together and pre-season so far has been good.”

Rutley said adapting into the Stingrays’ program has not been hard thanks to the tireless efforts of boys’ senior coach, Nick Cox and Male Talent Manager, Darren Flanigan.

“Nick Cox has been really good, he’s the boy’s new under 18 coach and he’s been fantastic just as a sort of reference point for me to ring up and talk about coaching, and in terms of integrating programs, all the intentions are there,” Rutley said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work like that but we’ve had a couple of sessions where we’ve been able to do some warm-ups and just some basic craft which is great. “Throughout the year we intend as coaches and maybe some players just to integrate a little bit more, especially with our top-end talent with the girls if we look to have some Vic Country representation potentially they might train on with the boys which I reckon would be a great initiative and is something that Nick spoke about. “I know with Darren Flanigan and Matty’s (Crozier) guidance we’ll be fine.”

Rutley said he could see plenty of talented players who were the future of AFL Women’s.

“This is my first year as a head coach but last year being in the AFLW space with Carlton and seeing girls ranging from 17 to 30 or even older, it’s really evident that the younger girls that have had the privilege of talent pathway programs are now benefitting from that massively,” he said. “Then you just look at the Round 1 games – we spoke about Jordy Allen, (Monique) Conti second year in, (Madison) Prespakis first game, (Nina) Morrison obviously, and there’s a list of many others. “These first or second year girls are showing by being privileged enough to have a pathway to come through, unlike our 30 plus year-old or those from other sports, it’s really telling and beneficial, and we’re only going to see a better product in years to come.”

Dandenong Stingrays are in the unique position of having two guaranteed future AFL Women’s players on their list, with top-agers, Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon both pre-listed by the Saints who were able to do so as part of the league expansion.

“Molly was one that towards the end of last year we thought was going to be a high draft commodity in 2019 and she’s really turned herself around and started pre-season with Nick (Rutley) coming on board, she’s really taken what Jordy left and run with it and owned it herself in the sense that she doesn’t really need the coach’s direction and really wants to have this group under her own,” Crozier said. “I think from an expansion point of view, the pre-selections give three girls the Sandringham region and the Dandenong Stingrays region a really good opportunity to cement their future and be put on an AFLW list before the season starts.”

For Rutley, he hoped to adapt the fast nature of the AFL Women’s game to his side in order to better prepare the girls for the rigours of the elite league.

“The big thing for me having spoken to AFLW coaches is that they’ve stripped it right back and brought it back to its purest form in skill craft. “If you look at the women’s space and the female game, it hasn’t been alive for that long. It’s growing rapidly and it’s great and really exciting but we need to take a breath as coaches and bring it back and make sure we’re teaching the initial fundamental skills. So we’ve had a really high emphasis on that in terms of” our craft, which is every session and it’s a non-negotiable, then we entered into a bit of a game sense phase just before Christmas and we’ve really started to ramp that up now.”

Rutley said the balance between skills and fitness was something that all clubs had to manage carefully.

“It’s an absolute balance,” he said. “The words marathon and sprint get thrown around in footy, well this is a sprint – 100 per cent. We don’t have a lot of time even in our pre-season phase and we don’t have a lot of time in season so Kelly Fallon has been fantastic in setting up a really good fitness program ranging, not just on the track but also in the gym with their core strength and stability training so we’re pretty happy at the moment that we’ve got a good balance which is important.”

Dandenong had a number of strong defenders last year and it looks to be a similar case this year, with the likes of Lucy Cripps and Zoe Hill potentially being key talls in the back half, having played for Vic Country in their respective age groups in 2018.

“I hope (the defence will be a strength),” Crozier said. “We’re pretty lucky to have those sort of girls coming through the program – it’s pretty rare you get a girl like Lucy Cripps who can mark and kick the footy really well and defend really. This year we have a bit of an emphasis on defence – defence turns into attack so we try and nurture that area of the game pretty well. “But as we said, we want to throw these girls around to different positions and really expose them for the recruiters so you might see Lucy Cripps playing full forward or on-ball or somewhere where she’s not accustomed to and hopefully thrives and catches the eye of AFL(W) recruiters. “Zoe Hill is still a raw talent, only a 17 year-old so hopefully she’ll be better for it this year and next year in 2020 as well she’ll really develop under the coaching group we’ve got at the moment.”

Crozier said the club was lucky to welcome back former female football talent manager, Darren Flanigan who has replaced Mark Wheeler as the Male Talent Manager – with Wheeler moving on to Sandringham Dragons.

“It’s been good because he’s (Flanigan) sort of left us to our own devices in a sense as to it’s our program and how we want to run it, he hasn’t come in over the top which has been good but he’s always been there for myself and Nick to question him about certain things,” Croier said. “The good thing about this year is that Darren’s come back and has been able to give the girls a bit more exposure and love into matching up with the boys program. “In the past, logistically it just hasn’t been able to happen due to not having him in-house but we’re very fortunate to have him and now we have such a great facility (at Seaford), we’ve been able to use the pools and stuff like that similar to the boys so Darren has been fantastic and take no credit away from Mark Wheeler who was the previous talent manager – he was fantastic for the girls and has been a guidance for me over 12 months so they’ve both been great. “Even since Mark left he’s been on the phone giving me advice so they’ve both been great.”

Rutley said he wanted to see as many girls drafted as possible, and therefore would be playing fast, attacking football to catch the attention of recruiters.

“We just want to be exciting and fast,” he said. “I just want the girls to take risks, make lots of mistakes and enjoy their footy. “We won’t be looking to save games and hold possession or play ultra-defensive footy – we will attack on the back of our defence but I just want them to be exciting, take risks and just showcase – at the end of the day they’ve got a real want to win and that’s normal at their age and where they’re at, being competitive, and it’s our job to get a balance of development. “Success will be a by-product of that so if that happens it’s all well and good and if they’re able to do that then they’ll get extra games – if you make finals you get extra games to showcase and that’s important if you’re trying to get to the next level.”

Dandenong Stingrays kick off the season on March 3 against Eastern Ranges at Skybus Stadium, Frankston.

Stingrays set out to make own history: Black

IT might have been the proverbial “monkey off the back”, but the focus from the Dandenong Stingrays’ playing group for Saturday’s TAC Cup Grand Final was purely centred around the present, rather than the past.

Stingrays coach Craig Black said everyone knew of the club’s grand final heartache – five grand finals all ending in defeat – but after a speech from Western Bulldogs defender Matthew Boyd at training during the week, the mindset was about making history.

“Matthew Boyd came in on Tuesday night and he said you respect the history, but you’re there to create your own, like the Bulldogs did (in their 2016 flag),” Black said. “The players there now, some of them weren’t even born in the 1997 Grand Final I played in. “I’m just rapt to get some reward, there’s been so many great people at our club. “Like you look at the talent managers, you had Steve Kennedy, then you had Darren Flanigan and now you’ve got Wheels’ (Mark Wheeler) who have put in so much work, then the coaches like Rob Dean eight years, Graeme Yeats 10 years and then I’m lucky enough to come in for five. So there’s been a lot of people who have done a lot of work around the club, so hopefully we can all enjoy the monkey off the back.”

Black said the emotions after the game were overwhelming with so many past players in the rooms and around the ground including Collingwood’s Adam Treloar – who is preparing for his own AFL Grand Final – GWS GIANTS’ Aiden Bonar, St Kilda’s Hunter Clark and Carlton’s Tom De Koning to name a few. The Stingrays coach said the feeling amongst the playing group was unbelievable.

“(It’s) amazing actually,” Black said. “It’s probably a mixture (of) we just wanted to get there, when the siren went it was more relief, and then the emotions you know when you see how excited the players are, you know it’s a kick the difference and it’s the end result is completely different. “Like you win by a goal or you lose by a goal, the emotions are completely different. “We’re happy today.”

Black admitted the last term was nerve-wracking with Oakleigh charging home and drawing within a goal in the final minutes.

“(I was) really, really nervous,” Black said. “That stoppage in the forward line I was like ‘don’t let the ball get over the back and we’re right’, ball gets over the back and I’m like ‘oh no’ and just our effort like Will Hamill and that just in the back half that just went ‘you know what, we’re not going to let them get this’ and I’m thinking extra time here, I’m thinking don’t concede a point, but extra time.”

The coach said the players were aware of the procedure if scores were level at the end of regular time and had been reminded on the day.

“Yeah we mentioned it during the week, and at three quarter time I just said to them, remember if it gets to 25 minutes, then it’s next score wins,” Black said.

Luckily for Black and the Stingrays, Dandenong needed just the regular hour to get the job done in what was a thrilling TAC Cup Grand Final, and one of the ages. Black described the win as a team effort.

“I thought our captain was awesome, Campbell Hustwaite,” Black said. “I just love the look of Sam Fletcher at the end of the game, like his shoulder was banged up, he had five stitches in the eye, blood all over his jumper. “That’s what footy means when you get that. “Our backs, like Will Hamill; Bailey Williams his effort to compete, Sam Sturt started the game really well. “Like anything you’ve just got to have contributors and I thought we had that today, and we were running up and down the ground when they were coming, we were looking tired, but we found a way.”

Victorian squads named for National AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships

VICTORIA’S top youth girl prospects have been selected to represent Vic Metro and Vic Country at the upcoming AFL Women’s Under 18 and Under 16 National Championships.

The players will begin training immediately after the TAC Cup Girls Grand Final on Saturday, May 19, with the first training session to be held at Ikon Park the following day. A second training session will be held at Windy Hill on June 3 ahead of the competition with Vic Country Under 16s hosting Vic Metro on May 27 in both Albury and Horsham. On June 16, both Under 16s and Under 18s will face off against each other at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong. The teams then fly north to compete in the AFL Women’s Under 18 National Championships with three games held on July 9, July 11 and July 13.

Murray Bushrangers’ coach Sam Ahmet and Eastern Ranges’ coach Tom Humphrey will lead Vic Country and Vic Metro respectively. Geelong Falcons’ Jason Armistead and Geelong VFLW assistant coach Natalie Wood were named as Vic Country assistants, while Northern Knights’ coach Marcus Abney-Hastings and Calder Cannons’ coach Paul Tilley will be the Vic Metro assistants.

AFL Victoria Female Talent Manager Darren Flanigan said it is pleasing to have a number of current TAC Cup Girls head coaches overseeing the U18 teams.

“Both Sam and Tom have good knowledge of the competition and the players within it,” Flanigan said. “We have been able to attract strong assistant coaching staff as well, which the players will benefit from.

“The Academy program provides players with the perfect opportunity to test themselves against the best players at this level, and start to showcase their capabilities to recruiters for the upcoming AFLW draft later in the year.

“Draftees such as Darcy Guttridge, Eden Zanker, Bridie Kennedy and Maddy Guerin all performed well at the 2017 championships, which certainly helped their draft chances later in the year. “It is a great learning experience to be part of the U18 Academy program, learning from other players and coaches in the competition.”

At Under 16 level, players selected will benefit from being mentored by current and former AFLW and VFLW players Mel Hickey, Emma Grant, Katherine Smith and Lauren Morecroft.

“The ability of these players to provide their time will only benefit the those selected in our program,” Flanigan said.

“Playing at the highest level possible, they will be able to share their experiences from the various levels of the female talent pathway, and help educate and develop these players to be ready to take the next step with their football.

In the under 18s, the Vic Metro midfield could contain the likes of top prospect Madison Prespakis, and fellow AFLW Academy teammates Emerson Woods and Gabby Newton, while the likes of Georgia Patrikios, Britney Gutknecht and Daisy Bateman add some X-factor up forward. Mikala Cann, Maddy Brancatisano, Katie Lynch and Eleanor Brown are a number of other players likely to roam through the midfield, while in defence, Georgia Macpherson, Molly Warburton and Hannah McLaren will hold up the fort.

For Vic Country, their midfield will include an AFLW Academy littered centre line featuring Tyla Hanks, Nina Morrison, Rebecca Webster and Olivia Purcell, who will rove to fellow AFLW Academy ruck Rene Caris. Lucy McEvoy, Georgia Clarke, Lucy Cripps, Denby Taylor and Jordyn Allen provide some strong numbers in defence, while up forward, Courtney Jones, Nikia Webber and Sophie Van De Heuvel will be key targets.

Under 18s:

Vic Metro:

Calder Cannons: Grace Dicker, Georgia Patrikos, Madison Prespakis, Carla Rendelmann, Felicity Theodore, Molly Warburton
Eastern Ranges: Mikala Cann, Gabriella De Angelis, Sarah Kendall, Georgia Macpherson, Laura McClelland, Jenna Richardson, Lauren Szigeti, Charlotte Wilson, Emerson Woods
Oakleigh Chargers: Daisy Bateman, Gemma Lagioia, Katie Lynch, Hannah McLaren, Bridie Winbanks, Nicola Xenos,
Northern Knights: Maddy Brancatisano, Britney Gutknecht, Marnie Jarvis, Neve O’Connor, Gabby Newton, Sarah Sansonetti
Sandringham Dragons: Holly Bate, Eleanor Brown, Molly Denahy Maloney, Abbie McKay, Jemma Owen, Jasmine Tait
Western Jets: Elisabeth Georgostathis, Isabella Grant, Cleo Saxon-Jones

Vic Country:

Bendigo Pioneers: Maddie Baldwin, Kate Douglass, Kodi Jacques, Megan Williamson
Dandenong Stingrays: Jordyn Allen, Lucy Cripps, Shelley Heath, Courtney Jones, Molly McDonald, Isabella Shannon
Geelong Falcons: Abbey Chapman, Zoe Inei, Tarryn Love, Lucy McEvoy, Nina Morrison, Olivia Purcell, Denby Taylor
Gippsland Power: Amy Dunn, Emily Haeusler, Tyla Hanks, Nikia Webber
GWV Rebels: Lauren Butler, Rene Caris, Georgia Clarke, Nyakoat Dojiok, Sophie Molan, Sophie Van De Heuvel, Ella Wood
Murray Bushrangers: Julia Harvey, Millie Brown, Tamara Smith, Rebecca Webster

The championships will begin June, with list reductions made in the lead-up to the first game.

The full Under 16s squads will be named on Wednesday.

 

Youth Girls shown new pathway in Tasmania

A NEW pathway for aspiring AFLW players has opened up in the form of the Wrest Point TSLW Under 18 Development Series. The series is a talent identification competition, which will assist TSLW clubs ahead of list confirmations for the 2018 season. It is also the first phase of the state academy, and about 30 players from the development series will be inducted into the state youth girls academy, which will form the basis of the state under 18 team which participates in the AFLW Under 18 National Championships.

Female state talent manager Leigh Elder said the series was an exciting development for youth girls football, and thanked competitions manager for women’s football and VFL Academy coach Darren Flanigan for his insight.

“This is a major step forward in the female talent pathway in the state and the cliubs engagement with this new program has been outstanding,” he said. “We have learnt a lot from Victoria’s TAC Cup model and are very appreciative of the time Darren Flanigan has given to help Tasmania in this space.”

Clubs have been provided a lesson plan and a coaching education session to ensure it is not only a player development program, but also assisting the future female coaches within the Tasmanian system. Results will not be kept from the development series to ensure a development focus is created. Clubs, coaches and state academy selectors will therefore be able to discuss positional play to help identify each of the players’ true talents, not what helps the team achieve a victory. Best players will still be announced for each of the games.

The six competing teams are broken up into northern and southern conferences, with two round robin days a fortnight apart to face each of the other two conference sides in shortened matches. The six teams then convene in a statewide carnival to play one side from the other conference on March 25 to conclude the series

Fixtures:

Southern Conference 1 | Saturday, March 3 at North Hobart Oval
11am: Clarence vs. Glenorchy
11.50am: Tigers vs. Glenorchy
12.40pm: Tigers vs. Clarence

Northern Conference 1 | Sunday, March 4 at Deloraine
11am: Launceston vs. Burnie
11.50am: North Launceston vs. Launceston
12.40pm: North Launceston vs. Burnie

Northern Conference 2 | Saturday, March 17 at Deloraine
11am: Burnie vs. North Launceston
11.50am: Burnie vs. Launceston
12.40pm: North Launceston vs. Launceston

South Conference 2 | Sunday, March 18 at North Hobart Oval
11am: Tigers vs. Clarence
11.50am: Clarence vs. Glenorchy
12.40pm: Tigers vs. Glenorchy

Statewide Carnival | Sunday, March 25 at Deloraine
12pm: Burnie vs. Glenorchy
1.20pm: North Launceston vs. Tigers
2.40pm: Launceston vs. Clarence

Players to watch:

Burnie Libby and Chloe Haines. The twin sisters are AFLW Academy members and entering their draft year. Crossing over from basketball, their strengths are their athletic ability and reading of the play. Libby can play through the midfield or at half-back, while Chloe is an inside midfielder who can also play a key forward role.

Clarence – Netty Garlo. She starred for Tasmania in the All Nations Cup last October, and has elite pace and agility. She can play through the midfield and is dangerous up forward.

Glenorchy – Holly Ryan. An elite kick who is a former soccer player. Ryan has played most of her football at centre-half back, although she can have an impact in the ruck.

Launceston – Mia King. An exciting inside midfielder who has made a quick rise up the ranks and was a late addition to the Allies team last year before advancing to the All Stars game at Etihad. At only 16 years-old, she has a long career ahead of her.

North Launceston – Raigan Kettle. Entering her second season in the game, she will hopefully progress to the state under 18s team. Kettle is a smart flanker who knows how to make space and the right decisions with ball-in-hand.

Tigers – Hailee Baldwin. She has been a star in the local youth girls competition with great speed and endurance, and is finally age eligible for state academy programs.