Slow start causes Gympie men to finish 10th at state titles
ACCORDING to Gympie men's hockey coach Ben Fitzpatrick you can't afford to have one bad half at a state championship.
Unfortunately for Gympie, they had two.
The Gympie men went to the state titles in Brisbane on the weekend and finished 10th overall.
Their first bad half was in their opening game against a red-hot Gold Coast.
Gold Coast came out of the blocks quickly against a sluggish Gympie side and by the break held a three-goal advantage and Gympie's chances of making the top division were gone.
Fitzpatrick said the side improved in the second half but by then it was too late to feature in Division 1.
The men then had to battle it out in Division 2 and played two great games on Saturday.
They recorded a 7-1 win against Gladstone and then an amazing 6-2 win against a talented Maryborough line-up.
Fitzpatrick said it was the best he had ever seen a Gympie men's side play.
"They way we passed and possessed the ball had a lot of people impressed - non-Gympie people as well," Fitzpatrick said.
The win put Gympie into the Division 2 final against Cairns.
Fitzpatrick said Cairns was a top-four team but unlucky early loss saw it back in Division 2.
Gympie's second bad half of the tournament came in the first stanza of the final.
"The boys gave them way too much space and time in the circle," Fitzpatrick said.
At half-time, Gympie was down 4-1.
After a roasting from the coach, the Gympie side pulled it together in the second half to hold Cairns scoreless but the damage had been done.
Cairns took the Division 2 title.
Fitzpatrick said 10th was the same place as Gympie finished last year but said the team seemed to play better.
"The boys' corners were great, we probably just needed a few more training runs together," he said.
Fitzpatrick said the Gympie side had drawn on former players from around south-east Queensland.
"We had a few players based in Brisbane and one from Chinchilla," he said.
Fitzpatrick said the whole side performed well but singled out Nathan Stephens as the best performer.
"It was probably the best I have seen Nathan play," Fitzpatrick said.
He also singled out his brother Dom and Drew Wenzel as top performers.