2022 Paul Kelly Cup Finals wrap

Immense excitement greeted all who attended the Paul Kelly Cup Finals in 2022. After a two-year hiatus, the ultimate day of competition was bathed in sunshine, with players and their families arriving at Sydney Olympic Park pumped and ready to play.

The Paul Kelly Cup Final was held across two grounds and six playing fields, two on Tom Wills Oval – the GIANTS’ training facility – and four at GIANTS Stadium. The 24 teams were shuttled between the grounds, each playing three pool games. The top teams in this round robin format went through to the semi-final, the winners of that progressing to the final.

AFL great, Paul Kelly, attended the day as did fellow decorated Swan, Ryan O’Keefe. AFLW superstar and Paul Kelly Cup alumnus, Alyce Parker from the GIANTS, also watched on with a thorough understanding of what the players were going through, and Swans AFLW player born and raised in Adelaide, Bella Smith, said she was impressed at the quality and enthusiasm of the players.

Congratulations to each of the teams who made it through to the Paul Kelly Cup Final. Each school represented the best of their region. A pool of 400 teams from more than 50 local tournaments were gradually whittled down throughout the year until just four remained at the end – the state finalists.


Paul Kelly Cup State Final 2022 – girls
MacKillop Catholic College 2.1 (13) def Griffith East Public School 1.2 (8)

Griffith East Public came into the final as the dominant force on Paul Kelly Cup Final day, having not conceded a goal through the pool stages.

However, MacKillop Catholic College, whose wins had been harder fought proved more than a strong match for the girls from the MIA.

At half time, it was clear Griffith East would need to work a little harder than in the pool matches, as its lead was only one point.

The game was won in close, with space and loose ball hard to come by. MacKillop managed to create an opening in its forward line with some clever positioning, stopping the Griffith East train and setting up the sole goal in the final half from a long set shot.

MacKillop’s team was made up of players all new to footy. They join a long list of Paul Kelly Cup champions who used the primary school tournament as a springboard to superstardom in the elite game including Kieran Jack and Alyce Parker.

Paul Kelly Cup State Final 2022 – boys
Albury Public School 6.4 (40) def Lindfield East Public School 3.1 (19)

If the flight up to the big smoke and four preceding games fatigued the boys from the border, they didn’t show it, bouncing out of the blocks in the first half with a commanding lead on the Lindfield side.

Deft possession and intelligent movement made Albury Public almost impossible to beat. They set-up well in defence and cut through the midfield, moving the ball with pace and precision that older teams would have trouble defending against.

Although they rallied in the second half, it was a tough ask for Lindfield who should hold their head high after succumbing to Albury Public, who defended their 2019 crown albeit with a new team of boys.

All photos by Nat Sports Media, Nigel Owen, Narelle Spangher