Paul Kelly Cup winners crowned on SCG

By Tom Naghten

A sun-drenched SCG welcomed 250 students from 17 schools, battling to determine this year’s winners in both the boy’s and girl’s divisions.

With 12 players a side and modified rules, 10,000 year five and six students from around the state compete for the 15th ediiton of the Paul Kelly Cup.

In the boy’s competition two past winners in Henschke Primary and Willoughby Public once again announced themselves as the teams to beat.

Both schools went undefeated through the pool stages, progressing through the semi-finals to set up an enticing, heavyweight showdown in the final.

Boasting several past titles and the claim of Paul Kelly’s former school Henschke brought strong pedigree to the final. The boys from Wagga flew out of the blocks, taking a three goal lead into half-time. Determined not to go down without a fight Willoughby rallied, outscoring the Henschke boys in the second term. The deficit however proved to be too much as Henschke hung on 4.6.30 to 3.1.19 to claim the title.

The win saw Henschke join Albury’s St. Pat’s as the most successful school in the competition with four titles in the boy’s division.

In the girl’s side of the draw last year’s beaten grand finalists Holy Family Kelso and the strong Cherrybrook Public duked it out in the final.

Both sides accounted for all teams in their pools and went into the decider full of confidence.

Ultimately Bathurst’s Holy Family Kelso proved too strong for Cherrybrook, capitalising on a half-time lead to run out 10 point winners in a low-scoring affair which ended 2.5.17 to 1.1.7.

The title would be the first for Holy Family Kelso in the five year history of the girl’s competition.

AFL NSW/ACT Schools and University Program Manager Stuart Newman said the finals were a thrilling exhibition of skill.

“The intensity and talent on display was great all day,” Newman said.

“The students were able play on the SCG, in the sun, following in the footsteps of their heroes.”

“It was the perfect way to end what is always a fantastic competition.”

Throughout the day all competitors were given the chance to meet Swans players Nick Smith, Dane Rampe, Alex Johnson and Sam Naismith, as well as participate in a long bomb competition during the lunch break.

The 2016 Paul Kelly Cup will get underway in Term 1 next year.

Below is a selection of the best images from Monday’s finals.

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