Finley looks beautifully positioned to be one of the Murray league’s boom teams after a big off-season.
With a trio of key inclusions plus a big summer of bulking from the club’s youngsters, anything short of a return to finals would appear to be a disappointing output from the Cats.
Tom Doyle will again coach the side, and he felt adding key pillars Sam Durnan and Fraser Hawkins along with NEAFL premiership player Jordan Taylor would lift the side’s youth to the next level.
“We made a hot start (to pre-season) on the back of our young kids, who put in the hard work in pre-season putting on weight and getting fit,” Doyle said.
“At one stage (in 2019) we had 12 guys that were 19 or younger; those younger guys tend to be in that running-mid mould, but to fast-track them we thought we needed a few bigger bodies, and some players in that key age range of 24 to 27. Things filter down nicely if you can do that.”
The Cats missed finals narrowly last season but showed plenty of promise, and Doyle warned rivals to expect huge performances from starlet duo Mat Wilson and Zec Cuppens as they take their next footballing steps.
Wilson led the Cats’ goal-kicking last season with 38 snags, but Doyle forecast plenty more midfield hours for the lively type.
The Cats have still not won a final since their 2016 trip to the grand final, but Doyle said the club was well and truly ticking the boxes to be among the competition’s elite once more.
“I was disappointed to miss last year, we had a team I felt could go a bit further,” he said.
“We played some really good footy, but what cost us was a little bit of depth, and we dropped a few games where we were just down. Consistency comes with age, and we’ve recruited that depth.”
COACH: TOM DOYLE
MFL PREMIERSHIPS: 1952, 1954, 1958, 1971, 1981, 1982, 1988
2019 FINISH: NINTH (7-1-10)
2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: LUKE MOORE
2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: MAT WILSON (38)
GROUND: FINLEY RECREATION RESERVE
IN: Sam Durnan (Avenel), Fraser Hawkins (Ainslie), Jordan Taylor (Southport).
OUT: Zeke Carruthers (Berrigan), Jesse McDonald (Huntly).
COACH: ROBYN CAMPBELL 2019 FINISH: SIXTH (10-10)
After 14 years away from the club, Robyn Campbell is returning to Finley to try and help the A-grade side push further into finals.
The Cats impressed last season, defying their young age to not only win nine regular season games, but knock off Mulwala in an elimination final.
“It was a young team and it will be again,” Campbell said.
“There’s a few changes, but the girls have been really eager, and a lot of the time it’s not just about ability, it’s the eagerness to do well that drives things.”
With a similar side, Campbell hoped her side would continue to improve.
“We want to get a little better, but there are some really strong teams in the Murray league, particularly the areas a little more heavily populated,” she said.
“We’re a small-town club, but they’re all local girls, they’re really dedicated and there’s a great culture.”