By Nick Kossatch

            The Lyrup Lions are the 2010 kings of Lyrup after their brilliant 28-point win over the East Murray Tigers in the Independent Football League Grand Final at a windswept and at times damp Lyrup Oval.

            It was one of the great recoveries to glory by a football club – firstly from their Second Semi Final loss to East Murray two weeks earlier and secondly from their wooden spoon last placing in 2009.

            This decider was played in gale-force winds and the Lions had use of the five-goal northwest wind. The Tigers handled the difficult conditions better with Brian Parsons continuing his outstanding form. His in-form team-mate Joshua Norman pounced on a loose ball to kick the opening goal.

            Both sides were hard at it emphasised by Lyrup’s Brad Healy and East Murray’s Mark McConnell colliding. It preluded another major to the bleach-haired Todd Collins who was up against the boundary but somehow managed to squeeze the ball through the uprights.

            If it were not for Lyrup playing-coach Sam Lloyd’s heroics, the home side would be further in trouble. Ryan Smith floated through the air to haul in a great mark on the far side wing. Lloyd continually prevented the opposition from doing further scoreboard damage and Adrian Abdulla handled the ball cleanly. Lyrup responded with successive goals to the duo and Lloyd’s 50-metre major put his side in front.

            It was short-lived at the start of the second quarter. Aaron Pligl snapped an excellent goal but not before an excellent Abdulla mark between two Tiger opponents. Despite the best efforts of East Murray’s Mark McConnell on a wing and fullback Rodney Tonkin, who was having an absorbing tussle with Nathan Willmott, Lyrup’s other star players came to seize the moment.

            The strength of half back David Grenfell was important for the Lions whilst the mercurial skills of Ken Karpany ignited his team. Roy Grenfell was winning the contested ball and not long after, centurion goal-kicker Willmott made the most of a dropped mark by Tonkin to put through his first and the Lions up by a solitary point.

            The Tigers had the chance to regain the lead only for David Andriske to miss. Karpany played a part to put Lyrup further ahead when his quick kick found its’ way to Wayne Priest. The ex-Barmera player then got a handball back from Willmott to run into an open goal. East Murray’s agile and athletic Ryan Smith and Zak Schubert posed some problems for Lyrup. Smith was especially good when he took his opponents on running out of defence and Schubert was a target at centre half forward.

            The Tigers drew first blood in the third quarter to draw within a goal courtesy of Justin Andriske but the home team, urged on by most of the large crowd, went up another level on the back of inspirational skipper Jason Marr.

            Marr, who had stitches on his hand the previous day, had a hand in the next two goals. Abdulla marked a pass from his captain and his check-side shot at goal was successful. Willmott’s move into the ruck proved critical and his experience resulted in Jason Marr’s second goal for the quarter. Karpany started to win centre clearances but his best was when he received a hand pass from his captain. He then made a difficult goal look so easy.

            The Tigers Daniel Fuss kicked the answering and as equally tremendous goal into the wind just before three quarter time. East Murray faced an 18-point deficit with only one more term for the year remaining.

The Lions were never going to let this one slip. Priest combined with Karpany and Scott Marr to assist Willmott with his second goal. Lyrup’s unsung heroes Josh Murphy and vice captain Adam Caputo booted goals and when Ben Roessel hung on to a high mark to slot another, the flag was Lyrup’s – their first since 2004.

            Lloyd was tremendous from start to finish for the Lions closely followed by Abdulla. Roy Grenfell won a lot of hard balls for his side. Karpany’s old legs were still running on top of the heavy surface at the end of the game. Priest answered Lyrup’s prayers for a spark in the second and third terms. David Grenfell and Healy were steadfast in defence and David Grenfell was also influential when thrown into the ruck.

            For the runner-up it was Parsons who was easily best with his ball-getting ability and use. Mark McConnell got a lot of it and provided run. Pligl was handy with two goals whilst Schubert, Ryan Smith and Ashley Hissey flashed in and out of the game.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: East Murray’s Ryan Smith’s ‘hanger’ on the outer wing during the first quarter rivalled Lyrup’s Ben Roessel’s beauty. Ken Karpany’s sensational running goal in the third quarter in difficult conditions was sublime skill at its very best.

TURNING POINT: East Murray’s 17 points told the tale. Todd Collin’s miss in the third could have put his side 12 points down but instead Lyrup worked the ball to the other end and made it a four goal lead courtesy of Josh Murphy’s snap.

BEST ON GROUND: Ken Karpany, Adrian Abdulla and Roy Grenfell’s class shone through and East Murray’s Brian Parsons was brilliant for his side. However, when the heat was applied by East Murray’s early inside 50’s, it was Lyrup’s playing-coach Sam Lloyd in defence who held firm. He was cool in a crisis and won plenty of the ball across half back and helped bring other players into the game with telling effect.

About Nicholas Kossatch

Tall and intelligent and athletically built who calls a spade a spade. Love sports writing and sending letters and texts to the editor about AFL and the Port Adelaide Power - win, lose or draw. I do not sit on the fence. Soon to be 40! I play basketball and over 35's supers football. Have played amateur footy and a bit of cricket and basketball when living in Adelaide. Do some writing for the Murray Pioneer,

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