Hockey Albury-Wodonga defeated by Ballarat in high-quality Victorian Senior Country Championship final

Hockey Albury-Wodonga (HAW) fell just short of winning its fourth straight Victorian Senior Country Championship over the long weekend.

The local association progressed to Monday’s final after two wins and two draws in the preliminary matches, but were unable to stop Ballarat in the final, going down 3-1.

HAW senior co-coach Jeremy Payne said the side ultimately didn’t make the most of their chances.

“They got the first goal and just before half-time we got one back to get it to 1-1,” Payne said.

“We just didn’t take our chances in the second half with goals, we had a few open chances and didn’t convert.

“It was a pretty even game with the midfield and defence, but we just couldn’t put them away in the end.

“The standard was a lot better, a lot of the guys that played for Ballarat play at top Melbourne clubs, so there was a lot of talent and a lot of good players.”

Payne said a number of the senior players were strong as usual, including Leigh Foulston, who was named the team’s most valuable player.

“Tony Donnelley, Ben Allen and Charley Wallace played well all weekend and obviously some of our young blokes made the Victorian team and had a really good tournament,” Payne said.

Meanwhile, HAW’s veterans teams competed well during the event, but ultimately couldn’t match it with the eventual winners.

Bendigo-based Hockey Central Victoria easily accounted for Goulburn Valley, 8-2, in the final.

HAW veteran’s team manager Craig Pontt admitted Central Victoria were a very classy side.

“We didn’t go as well as what we were hoping to, Pontt said.

“We had a lack of numbers to fill the two sides, which in the end probably hurt us because we ran out of legs.

“We just didn’t have enough reserves, which meant a lot more people were doing extra work.”

The highlight of the weekend for the local veterans was Dennis Martin’s goal at the dying stages from a short corner to defeat Ballarat 1-0.

HAW had a number of playes selected in Victorian Country teams after the weekend’s tournament.

Sam Daly, Beechworth’s Georgia McCormick and former HAW product Jessie Nixon made the women’s team.

Fraser Cullen, Brenton Newnham and Andrew Nixon made the cut for the men’s side, with Nathaniel Conlan named an emergency.

While in the masters, Ivo Mol (over 55s division one), Dennis Martin, Mark Hulme (over 60s division one), Bert Eastoe, John Dommett and Laddie Bardy (over 60s division two) were all picked.