Demons crucial win

Matthew O'Dwyer. (Ljubica Vrankovic) 341896_47

Tara Murray

A determined Tullamarine has fought its way back into Essendon District Football League division 1 finals contention.

It’s been a tough first half of the season for the Demons, with injuries making it hard to get a consistent side out on the park.

The Demons used the bye to reset and showed they won’t give up without a fight for a top five spot.

Facing Craigieburn, which is sitting in fifth spot, the Demons produced four solid quarters to come away with a 13.9 (87)-9.11 (65) win.

Demons coach David Connell said it was one that they needed to win.

“We didn’t talk about it during the week, but we definitely knew how big a game it was with where our season is at,” he said.

“The break last week came at a good time for us to reset a little bit and give us a little bit more time to identify what has not been working.

“There were subtle changes in the game plan, but it was more the mindset.

“I’m pretty proud.”

The Demons were dealt a blow on the morning of the game, with Jake Long a late withdrawal due to the flu.

Steve Vocale did a hamstring in the third quarter as well.

Connell said the rest of the playing group was able to step up and they produced their best four quarter performance in a couple of years.

“They had a three goal lead early in the second quarter,” he said. “One of the things we spoke about was that we had some really good momentum going against us at times.

“We needed to stay in the present. We were able to hang in there and it was our most consistent performance for the last couple of years.”

One thing that was really pleasing for Connell was being able to finish the game off. In several games this season, the Demons have been in the game at three quarter time before being blown away.

“It’s not a fitness thing,” Connell said. “It’s a lack of consistency getting players on the park.

“We’ve had so many injuries. We’ve had 13 hamstrings in eight or nine games, it’s a balancing act.”

Joel Flanigan kicked five goals in the win in his best game for the season.

Connell said the performance of Michael Sikora in the ruck to nullify the influence of Jake Carlisle was crucial.

Dom Micallef was able to play back and took several intercept marks, while Matt O’Dwyer had his best game for the year having been moved out onto the wing.

Connell said they couldn’t identify anyone who didn’t play their role on Saturday.

For the Eagles, Carlisle and Jesse Davies kicked two goals each. Brent Gordon was named their best.

The Eagles remain in fifth spot, but the gap to the chasing pack has closed.

The Demons are now in sixth spot a game back along with Roxburgh Park and Oak Park.

Connell said footy is a funny game.

“Two weeks ago, we weren’t out of it, but were in the bottom pack looking at whether we focus on trying to play finals or try and not get relegated,” he said.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do. We have a bye in two weeks. We face Rupertswood and Keilor Park.

“During this period we wanted to turn our season around and get to the bye 5-5. We ticked one box.”