Emily McGuire feature image

Emily McGuire. (Photo: Swan Districts - Facebook)

Peel stole Swans Districts' thunder late in the season, but captain Emily McGuire is backing her young guns to take it back in the WAFLW grand final.

After their best season to date, a young Swan Districts side led by Emily McGuire has another chance to secure the one thing they missed out on in 2019 – a WAFLW premiership flag.

There’s no denying Swan Districts have been a force to be reckoned with this season. They comfortably finished comfortably first on the ladder with 14 wins and just one loss, at the hands of the Peel Thunder in round 14.

In 2019, they had the opportunity to seize the inaugural WAFLW flag, East Fremantle beat them to it to the tune of 23 points.

For Emily McGuire, the past two year’s failed campaigns have motivated the club to get into the big dance again.

“It’s something we’ve built on from last year and even 2019 when we did make it,” she told The Inner Sanctum

“We’re always hungry to get back into the big dance and our hard work has finally paid off throughout this year and through preseason.”

While the home and away season was smooth sailing, the lead up to the grand final had two huge hurdles to overcome.

Naturally last week’s postponement of the grand final due to COVID-19 restrictions was a hiccup, but it began for the Swans in week one of finals.

The Swans failed to kick a single goal, kicking 11 behinds to send themselves into the do-or-die clash against an in-form Subiaco. Peel’s two goals were enough to secure the home ground advantage and advance straight to the Grand Final.

While it threw a spanner in the works, she is confident they have righted their wrongs and done enough to overcome Peel on Sunday.

“We know what we need to work on when it comes to Peel,” she said.

“We fell down twice to them this year and we know where we went wrong. It’s all back to the drawing board and the training track. We’ve really nailed those things now, so hopefully we can put it to show.”

One particularly dangerous part of the Thunder’s game is the forward line. Comprised of the league’s top goal scorer Kate Bartlett and Kira Phillips, it can be tricky to stop.

However, Emily McGuire believes the Swan’s backline is strong enough to neutralise and hold up against their strong forward line.

She made note of Aimee Ralph, who “holds down the backline”. Her skills and prowess are handy, especially with draft hopefuls and other youthful Swans by her side.

However, all over the ground, you’ll find plenty of emerging talents who have also proven to be a strength of Swan Districts. Five of the WA’s 15 AFLW draft combine invitees hail from the club. These include Dana East, Emma Nanut, Melisha Hardy, Nyra Anderson and Sarah Lakay, all of whom are named in the side for Sunday.

The Swans skipper has plenty of faith in the younger players, particularly in the middle.

“Our young guns that we have throughout the midfield I think will step up,” McGuire said.

“It’s that day where everyone takes in their own individual talent and puts the team first and brings out their shining light.”

One ‘young gun’ she told us to keep an eye on, is Dana East, who she described as “unstoppable” and a “handy pick up.”

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She, alongside Brianna and Mikayla Hyde, Bianca Webb, and Jessica Cox will go head-to-head against 16-year-old sensation Ella Roberts, Fremantle’s Sabreena Duffy and 50-gamer Chloe Wrigley, all who will be sure to bring their a-game.

But before even stepping onto the field at Rushton Park, Swan Districts have done plenty to achieve the goals set by the side. Naturally, flag success was on the agenda, but development of young players was not neglected. In that sense, they were successful.

“We just wanted success really,” McGuire said.

“We had a lot of young players come in and new players, so we just wanted to get to know them, and we took this year as a development year.

“We came out firing and we did things that surprised me and surprised everyone. To get to the grand final is something that we’ve all been working for.”

For many of the players, it will be their first time playing in a match with a title at stake, however McGuire has said she will do what she can to “be there for the younger girls,” drawing from her own experiences as a younger player in a similar scenario.

“It is quite scary to play in a grand final for your first time,” she said.

“I’ve played in a couple now so, showing the girls that if you do make a mistake, that’s alright, and just getting around them and being there for them if they need a hand [is my role].”

Emily McGuire leads the way, with young guns such as Brianna Hyde by her side. Photo: Swan Districts – Facebook

However, what Emily McGuire has done this year for her Swans has been remarkable.

Not only has she captained her youthful side to a near perfect season, but she has stood up with a team first approach, unselfishly leading from the front up forward.

But for her personally, as a captain of two years, the win would mean a great deal. It would be a very nice addition to her very impressive footy resume, she says.

“It would mean everything,” McGuire admitted.

“I never thought that I’d be a captain, but to be a premiership captain is definitely something I’ve strived for in my two years so far.

“Now that we’re here and have the chance to feel that, so I’m hoping that we get the win.”

Both Swan Districts and Peel Thunder are counting down the days to go until they face off for the ultimate prize.

For the Swans, nerves and excitement are settling in, and they are keen to get out on the park. McGuire has urged the WA community to head down to Rushton Park and support the event, especially since it was rescheduled by the WA Football Commission to allow crowds.

“Grand finals are always exciting and it’s always a big thing, so the more support that we can get the better.”

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