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2017 Senior Men’s NPL Recap

2017 Season Recap: Senior Men’s National Premier League Queensland

Images: Patrick Kearney

The 2017 PlayStation Australia National Premier League Queensland season has come to an end for Olympic FC’s Senior Men at Goodwin Park, after going down 2 – 1 to Brisbane Strikers in the final round of competition. The defeat saw Olympic finish in 5th position, one point out of the top four, meaning miss out on the 2017 finals series.

2017 was perhaps one of the most intense seasons for Olympics’ Senior Men who required a draw in the final round to qualify for the finals, after leading the competition early in the season. It wasn’t to be however, as Brisbane Strikers defeated Olympic to be titled premiers, eliminating Olympic FC in the process.

The start of the season would see Terry Kirkham appointed as the Senior NPL Head Coach, which saw Olympic undergo massive changes to the senior football system. Terry would have the seniors, U20s and U18s all train together, allowing for a smooth transition when players were called into the senior side. The system would see Terry Kirkham as head coach, working with three other coaches; Ali Dermicran, Gerry McEvoy and Denzil Coulter. He would have two coaching assistants; Richard Guiver and Angus along with three team managers and medical staff. The group would consist of 52 players ranging from 16 years of age to 28 on average, with three marquee players over 28; Kazuya Ito, Shane Stefanutto and Matt Mundy.

Shane Stefanutto in action in Round 20 vs Gold Coast City FC (Patrick Kearney).

Terry aimed to provide an easy pathway for the group so that all players could make the transition into the senior team as required:

“From the outset, the coaching staff and the playing squad all trained together in mixed and squad based training. My job is to set the pathway for technical, tactical and planning for the year then practically make it all work on the park with the group so when we come to game days the players can be playing in First Team, Under 20 and Under 18 game day squads.”

“Once the groups are sent to training in squad groups or to their game day groups, I then manage the coaches to further develop them so they can manage the squads at under 20 and under 18 level. We then have three structured team groups that all work to the one plan.”

Terry was extremely pleased with how well the system was implemented at Olympic FC with the focus on playing players between the grades weekly.

“This system works extremely well with the focus to play players through all the three grades weekly. This allows our young players to develop by working in the three grades so no matter what team we put out each week, everyone from the coaches to the players know what they have to do in their roles and the messages stay the same.”

Olympic flew out of the blocks early to lead the competition, dispatching opponents by large margins in the first 10 rounds. The impressive start saw Olympic remain undefeated until Round 6 where FNQFC Heat narrowly defeated Olympic 1-0 in Cairns. Olympics’ second defeat wasn’t until Round 9 when they were narrowly edged out by Gold Coast City 1-0 away from home. This comprehensive start to the season saw Olympic top of the table after the first 9 rounds, with Matthew Heath leading the Golden Boot after the first half the season.

Heath was a competition standout, scoring 13 goals in the first 6 rounds, including a four goal haul in an 8-2 thumping of Sunshine Coast FC in Round 5. Heath led the Golden Boot half way through the season, with the nearest competitor having tallied less than half that of Heath. Unfortunately, Heath was struck by injury in Round 9, ruling him out for the season after an impressive start to the 2017 campaign.

Matthew Heath of Olympic FC and Aaron Reardon of Brisbane Roar in action during the NPL Queensland Senior Men’s Round 1 match (Patrick Kearney)

Injuries would unfortunately feature heavily over Olympics’ season, with over half of the first team side ruled out during the middle of season. Matt Heath, Andy Coyne, Ramone Close, Matt Mundy, Scott Bow, Sam Cronin, Kristen Waters and Danny Byrne were all casualties during the middle period of the season, which saw Olympic begin to tail away from the competition leaders, Gold Coast City. With key members of the senior side injured, the middle rounds of the season would see Olympic bleed their youth, who put in exceptional performances against tough competition.

Depth would play a crucial role in the season for Olympic, with numerous Under 20’s NPL players being promoted to the senior side throughout different stages of the season. Brayden Cook, Charles Slaney, Harry McMaster, Matthew Cann, Michael Morrow, Panayoti Bellas, Theo Kambanis and Zander Guy all took to the pitch for the senior side, making their debut in the PlayStation Australia National Premier League Queensland. All would impress head coach, Terry Kirkham, with Cook, Slaney and Cann all finding the back of the net during the season.

“The success of our youth development policy into senior football worked with the championship trophy being won with 2-3 games in hand and a superior goal difference.”

“Our under 20 and under 18 squads were all signed as a group with ages ranging from 16 to 19. This season, the majority of the under 18 squad all played in the under 20s, we played 8 under 20s in the first team and 6 under 16s played in the under 18.”

“We only have one player from this year’s under 18/20 squad who will be 20 next year which is a major positive. We are promoting at least four under 20 players to first team contracts for me the year and further 10 development contracts will be awarded for next season.”

The success of the season was rewarded as Olympic FC were privileged with the opportunity to host Brisbane Roar FC at Goodwin Park on Saturday 9th September. The match would see the Under 20’s given the opportunity to prove their quality against the A-League side, who showed they were more than capable against a high quality side.

Overall, Terry is pleased with how the 2017 season progressed with the development of Olympics’ Youth and the results produced on the football pitch.

“We are very pleased with entire group this season.”

“Everyone involved from players to coaches developed well and the platform for us to continue to grow is built. We look forward to working with the players again and the next crop of players who make our squad after the trial process is completed in late October.”

Zander Guy and Jade North compete for the ball during the pre-season friendly vs Brisbane Roar FC (Patrick Kearney).

 

Results:

Round 1: Olympic FC 4 – Brisbane Roar Youth 1
Round 2: Redlands United 2 – Olympic FC 6
Round 3: Western Pride 0 – Olympic FC 6
Round 4: Olympic FC 2 – Moreton Bay United 2
Round 5: Sunshine Coast FC 2 – Olympic FC 8
Round 6: FNQFC Heat 1 – Olympic FC 0
Round 7: Olympic FC 3 – Brisbane City FC 2
Round 8: Olympic FC 4 – SWQ Thunder 0
Round 9: GCCFC 1 – Olympic FC 0
Round 10: Olympic FC 1 – Northern Fury FC 1
Round 11: Brisbane Strikers 3 – Olympic FC 1
Round 12: Brisbane Roar Youth 0 – Olympic FC 4
Round 13: Olympic FC 6 – Redlands United 0
Round 14: Olympic FC 2 – Western Pride FC 1
Round 15: Moreton Bay United 0 – Olympic FC 1
Round 16: Olympic FC 8 – Sunshine Coast FC 0
Round 17: Olympic FC 3 – FNQFC Heat 2
Round 18: Brisbane City FC 4 – Olympic FC 1
Round 19: SWQ Thunder 0 – Olympic FC 0
Round 20: Olympic FC 1 – GCCFC 3
Round 21: Northern Fury FC 0 – Olympic FC 0
Round 22: Olympic FC 1 – Brisbane Strikers 2

Top Goal Scorers (matches):

Matthew Heath 13(8)
Ramone Close 10(14)
Daniel Byrne 8(14)

Ramone Close in action before scoring in Round 16 vs Sunshine Coast FC (Patrick Kearney).

 

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