Travis Cohalan’s tenure as Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes coach came to a close with an elimination final loss to Leeton-Whitton on Sunday.
The Goannas led by 30 points early in the second quarter but had coughed up that advantage by half-time. The Crows then edged ahead to record a 19-point win.
Cohalan, who was finishing up after three years in charge, said he felt for the players most.
“It’s disappointing to finish up with a loss any year but I suppose when you’re not going around again next year it’s definitely disappointing,” Cohalan said.
“It’s not about me, I actually thought the boys deserved better than that. I couldn’t have asked for any more from them. They’ve worked their butts off from November until now and I just feel sorry for them because I thought they deserve better.
“A few things didn’t go our way today and with injuries all year, they are excuses but they are also valid reasons, I just feel they deserve better but it is disappointing.”
Cohalan took the Goannas to three consecutive finals appearances in his time in charge of the MCUE senior team.
The Goannas started this season strongly before struggling through the middle and latter parts of the year.
Sunday’s task against the Crows was made tougher by ruckman Andrew Dickins being unable to play much of a part due to an ongoing knee injury.
Cohalan said his team ultimately panicked under pressure.
“Our first quarter and a half was the best footy we played all year,” Cohalan said.
“We had blokes who were playing to team structures, the game plan was working and then credit to Leeton, they fought back and put some pressure on us and instead of sticking to our game plan we went back into our shells and panicked a little bit.
“We just leaked far too many goals in the second quarter. You shouldn’t go from a position in any game, let alone a final, where you’re 30 points up to losing by three goals.
“It’s an eight-goal turnaround and it’s just a result of a young team not sticking to their structures and game plan.”