Kiewa Sandy Creek coach Adam Mudra remained proud of the Hawks' achievements this season.
Despite losing Saturday's preliminary final, the premiership coach said the heartache would motivate their quest for the flag next year.
Mudra has led the Hawks for the past three years.
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He made the grand final in his first season before leading the Hawks to the flag last year.
Mudra is considered one of the smartest tactical coaches in the league and has signed on again for next season.
"I'm still super proud of the players," Mudra said.
"We are not the only club to battle injuries and unavailability.
"But it did really challenge our group throughout different stages of the season.
"It's still a terrific effort to make the preliminary final.
"But when you get this close, you want to go all the way.
"We fought it out and had a crack at it but just fell a bit short in the end."