FOOTBALL'S finals eve hiatus is vexing enough, but even more so when you're a club stalwart like Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes' Pat Killalea looking to end a flag drought.
But if COVID robs the second-placed Goannas of a chance of glory this year, the defender will get another opportunity after re-signing for 2022.
Killalea played in MCUE's grand final losses in 2014 and 2015, and along with Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong were the favourites as they chase a first premiership since 1993.
"If it doesn't go to plan this year then I'm still pretty hungry to get the result. Another year with the team we have, it's hard to say no," he said.
"I've always been with Mango and got family ties, it means a lot to play there and to get some success will be even sweeter.
"It's unbelievable how it's happened, to get that far into the season and to have a roadblock right at the end is obviously very frustrating.
"Even for Rowey's (coach Jeremy Rowe's) sake, he's put in so much effort and the whole committee into making the year what it was.
"With the results we had as well it made it even more disappointing, but there's still a glimmer of hope."
Killalea admitted he was suprised by AFL Riverina's initial decision to pencil in September 19 as the season cutoff date, which has since been extended to October 3.
"The initial date was a bit of a shock for all clubs involved. I definitely would like to see it pushed back, I've got no issues with it to try and get a result," he said.
"The top five was all getting pretty close towards the end, with everyone finding some form at the right time."
It appears more unlikely by the day the Goannas will be allowed to select their Canberra-based players for finals if they go ahead.
But Killalea said a comprehensive 70-point win over Collingullie-Glenfield Park in their last hitout gives them belief they can still step up.
MCUE is due to play Wagga Tigers in a cutthroat semi final if the season resumes.
"That definitely gave us some confidence in their depth, that game when we had five or six out," Killalea said.
"We can manage with the numbers we've got if it comes to that, we know we can get the job done.
"It would be disappointing to see them (Canberra-based players) not make it but guys like Zac Hanrahan stepped up and our youth have been great."
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On-baller Tom Keogh has also committed to the club for next season, and is keen to add to the premiership he won in a one-off season with Wagga Tigers in 2019.
"I'm pretty comfortable now. I've been there apart from 2019," he said.
"It (season hiatus) is super frustrating. It's tough training by yourself and staying motivated, but hopefully we'll get to finish the season at the end of it."
Should the regional lockdown end on Friday, the Goannas are scheduled to play the Tigers at Narrandera on Sunday, September 19.
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