Agony of defeat burns for Dragons’ players


THE agony of grand final defeat is what Sandhurst co-coach Bryce Curnow will use to drive throughout pre-season and in the 2024 Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL senior footy action.

As Golden Square players and supporters celebrated a one-goal win, Sandhurst was left to ponder what might have been.

“We did no much right, not just in this match, but the season,” Curnow said in the coaches room under the Queen Elizabeth Oval grandstand.

“I am super proud of the way we fought out the match.

“We had our chances to win.

“It’s a hollow feeling not to have achieved what you wanted to.”

Curnow said they were so many pivotal contests throughout a match which ended in a 71-65 victory for Golden Square.

“There are moments we would all like to have another go at, but that’s not to be.”

A key defender, especially with his intercept marking across half-back, Curnow started the grand final in attack, but later went to defence.

Curnow said it had been a brilliant performance to build from a tally of 10 wins last season to finish this year’s home-and-away series on a tally of 16 wins, one draw, and one defeat.

Sole loss across 18 rounds was for a team jointly coached by Curnow, and Ash Connick, non-playing, was on Golden Square’s turf.

For Curnow and co-coach Ash Connick there are so many positives going into the ’24 campaign.

“In this grand final team we had 10 players who are 21 or under,” Curnow said.

Some of them such as Noah Walsh and Sam Conforti were outstanding.

“We also had five players who had represented Bendigo Pioneers this season,” he said of a team which had a great blend of rising stars teamed with experienced campaigners such as Lee Coghlan, Andy Collins, Nick Stagg and Matt Thornton.

In a season where injuries affected some clubs more than others, Sandhurst would have had 40-plus represented the club at senior level.

“For the seniors to be beaten is incredibly disappointing, but we are also rapt with the effort by the reserves to win the premiership,” Curnow said of the performance by the Jake McLean-coached team.

Turnover of players at Sandhurst FNC will be inevitable, as it is for all clubs.

Grand final day featured seven Sandhurst teams – two football, and all five netball.

“The culture of the club is incredible,” Curnow said of a day in which the Dragons finished with a win-loss tally of 3-4.

“The unity between football and netball is amazing.

“We also have so many incredible volunteers who give so much time and effort to the club.”

Curnow said Sandhurst’s players and fans are hurting after not adding to the senior premiership tally, but the desire to improve and achieve more success will not drop away.

📸 – Darren Howe