FINGAL Valley earned a grand final berth and another crack at Old Scotch next week with a hard- fought 17-point victory over a gallant St Pats in the NTFA division 2 preliminary final at Youngtown yesterday.
In a good competitive game of finals' football, little separated the two teams all day with a three or four-goal wind favouring the southern end of the ground - St Pats holding a four-point lead at quarter time and the County Blues a five-point margin at the main break.
The Saints booted four goals to one with the wind in the premiership quarter to open up a 15-point break at the last change but it wasn't enough as the minor premier finished strongly, kicking six goals to one in the final term and getting on top in the latter part of the quarter to run out winners 14.11 (95) to 11.12 (78).
Ted Davis kicked four goals to be Fingal's best goalkicker with Mitchell Stagg, Richard Lowe and Todd Spilsbury booting two each with singles to Nick Walker, Cameron Gard, Brad Goodyer and Ben Haywood.
St Pats coach Lenny Towns led from the front with five for the Saints, Chris Hay grabbed two with singles to Brodie Langley, Paul Kelly, Dayle O'Neill and Mitchell Jones.
"It was a good win and we're definitely happy to make a grand final because it's not every year that you get the chance to do that and the boys are up and about after our win today," Fingal coach Matthew Lowe said.
"Both teams had a red-hot dip all day and it was an unbelievable good old- fashioned game of footy.
"Full credit to St Pats because they had two really hard wet games and they brought their A-game today and took it right up to us so full credit to Lenny and his side."
Lowe said despite trailing at the last change, he knew his side needed to stick to its structures in the final quarter which they did and got the job done.
"It probably wasn't our best game but finals are always a grind and both sides ground it out all day and it was close all day - and I just thought a really good game of football," he said.
Spilsbury was outstanding for his work rate in defence and up forward to be possibly Fingal's best player with Jonathan Smart, Brad Trotter, Nic Denholm, Howe and Heath Lowe other good performers.
Lowe was reluctant to single out better players saying everyone played their role.
"We are looking forward to another shot at Scotch next week - we have a few injury concerns so we will reassess things this week.
"We'll go in as underdogs now which I think suits us better after Old Scotch beat us convincingly in the second semi-final."
Evandale made it a day of double defeats for the Saints by winning a close reserves preliminary final 12.5 (77) to 11.9 (75).