By Tara Murray
Keilor’s motivation remains high early in the Essendon District Football League premier division pre-season.
Coming off a perfect season, many could forgive the Blues for being slightly off in their preparations for the 2020 season, but coach Mick McGuane said early signs were there was still a lot of motivation among the group.
“It’s been pretty good,” he said.
“We started later than most, but we finished later than most. “The numbers have been good and the appetite to train is positive … complacency can set in at times.”
The Blues’ hopes of going back-to-back have got off to a perfect start with the whole premiership side sticking around.
On top of that, a number of players who missed the premiership are looking good on the track.
“Our 22 in the grand final are still at Keilor,” McGuane said.
“Then you’ve got those who didn’t play, Nick O’Kearney, Jesse Wallin, Damien Cavka and Brock McGregor. They are looking good.”
O’Kearney and Cavka are among the Blues players training at VFL clubs. If they get onto the park for the Blues, it will only make them stronger.
“We know they are elite players in the competition,” McGuane said.
“Nick has had no luck and Cavka hasn’t had a run at it. The first three rounds of our best and fairest and they were prominent.
“We lost McGregor in the Pascoe Vale game too.
“A lot would think it’s a long way back from losing those types of players.”
The Blues’ new recruits will also add to the side’s midfield depth.
McGuane said Luke Cartilli, who returns to the club, wants to finish his career at Keilor.
Paul Sahlberg, who played his junior football at the Blues, has come across from Riddell District Football League outfit Riddell, where he won a league best and fairest award in 2015.
Both are able to play in the midfield, which will put pressure on some of the experienced players already in the team.
McGuane said they were still talking to a few players who might have VFL commitments, about coming across as well.
The Blues look set to have six sides in their senior set-up next season, with the club likely to have the numbers to have a senior, reserves, two thirds sides and two under-18 sides.
McGuane said it was a testament to the hard work put in.
“I’m pretty proud of what we have developed and proud of what we stand for,” he said.
“We’ve just had Josh Honey drafted.
“He joins the likes of Jayden Laverde, Kyle Hartigan, Paul Ahern and Corey Ellis.
“We’ve given these kids chances. All those boys came through the Keilor system and are living their life dream.”