You have to wind the clock back to 2013 as to when Dederang-Mt Beauty last contested finals. But after almost a decade in the finals wilderness, the Bombers are being touted as one of the competitions biggest improvers this season. Coach Damien Jones caught up with The Border Mail's BRENT GODDE
BRENT GODDE: It has been a productive off-season at Bomberland, headlined by the arrival of classy midfielder Jordan Harrington from Lockhart?
DAMIEN JONES: It's no secret that we needed further recruits to become a serious finals threat and to land a few signings is rewarding. Getting Jordy Harrington, Blake Jones, Joel Heiner and Connor Brodie is exciting for our group and has raised expectations.
BG: Importantly, you have been able to keep departures to a minimum?
DJ: Clay Cambridge-Dillon is our only confirmed departure who is relocating to Queensland.
BG: Harrington was one of the biggest signings in the competition over the off-season?
DJ: Jordy will be huge for us and will take a lot of pressure off Elliott Powell in the midfield who we relied heavily on last year. Jordy was one of the premier midfielders in the Hume league and won Lockhart's best and fairest last season. I rate him alongside Connor Newnham and Scott Meyer as the three biggest signings in the league over the summer.
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BG: Finals are a realistic goal this season?
DJ: To be honest, I thought we were a genuine finals threat last year and probably let a few opportunities slip against top-five sides that proved costly. The playing group expects to take part in the September action and I know I'll be disappointed if we aren't. I think the challenge will be that the competition is probably the strongest it has been for quite a while with seven or eight sides capable of playing finals with not too many easy matches like in previous years.
BG: You were able to push most sides last season with the exception of Barnawartha?
DJ: That's what I have been quick to point out to potential recruits. We were in most matches and in winning positions but a few lapses proved costly. It proves we have got the potential to be a finals contender and that's why I'm so excited about the season ahead.
BG: Yackandandah proved last year what can be achieved when a club grows in confidence and starts to get on a roll?
DJ: Exactly, Yackandandandah finished eighth in 2019 and surprised everybody last year to be minor premiers. A few recruits can make a big difference and once you get that belief, anything is possible. I think the Roos will take a power of stopping again this year.
BG: Powell was the biggest signing in the competition last year. How did you rate his season?
DJ: After playing for a powerhouse like Albury, I think it took Elliott a bit of time to adjust to the lower level of the Tallangatta league. I thought Elliott still produced some ripping games of football and among some of the best that I have seen in the league. He got injured but wanted to still keep playing while we were still in contention for finals when he probably shouldn't have.
BG: You appointed Josh Kable as skipper last year and he thrived with the added responsibility to finish runner-up in the Barton medal?
DJ: In my opinion, Josh is the most underrated player in the Tallangatta league. I rate him so highly and I made him captain because he is so well respected by the playing group. He became our Mr Fixit last year with his ability to play key back as well as a key forward. Josh is flying on the track and has really set himself for another big season. I think he will be an even better player with support from Connor Brodie who is also another key defender.
BG: What were the numbers like over pre-season training before the Christmas break?
DJ: Traditionally Dederang doesn't like to do too much before Christmas and we only had a few light runs. But we have been averaging 25-30 blokes which is about the numbers that I expect.
DJ: Who do you see starting the season as flag favourites?
BG: I like Chiltern. You have to give credit to Luke Brookes and the way he goes about coaching.
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