Marrar coach Shane Lenon is as 'disappointed as anyone' after the Farrer League was officially cancelled but said they're determined to focus on a brilliant season than dwell on what they might have been denied.
The minor premiers dropped just one game all season and were heading into finals on a 12-game wining streak and firm flag favourites.
Competitiveness is a big part of the coach's DNA but Lenon insisted on taking a broad view.
"Put it this way: we didn't have a season at all last year. It's a lot better to have a full home-and-away season. It's disappointing we didn't get to the finish line but it's a whole lot better than what we had the previous year," Lenon said.
"And we've come out of lockdown. Small businesses can open up, there's people's livelihoods involved, kids can go back to school. You've got to look at the big picture. They're all positives, even though we can't play footy."
But even rival coaches knew it had to hurt.
The Rock-Yerong Creek's Brad Aiken told The Daily Advertiser, "The one that's probably lost out the most is Marrar. They were hot favourites to win the flag, probably deservedly."
Lenon concedes it was tough seeing his players work hard enough to be in a strong position but not able to challenge for a third flag in four seasons. He wants them to value their achievements, not rue what COVID-19 might have cost them.
"We finished on top, we had the best defensive record, we had the best attacking record. We haven't won a flag but we've been clearly the best side for the year. We can hold our heads up as a club. We've had an outstanding year really," he said.
"It's disappointing, because you play footy to play finals. You play footy to get in a grand final and obviously the ultimate in team sport is a premiership. So, to not be given that opportunity is disappointing."
The Bombers finished three wins clear of East Wagga-Kooringal, scoring 230 points more than the Hawks and conceding 162 less.
(Interestingly, fifth placed the Northern Jets were the second-most potent attacking team, scoring 79 points less than the Bombers, who won six more games).
Despite Marrar's dominance, Lenon strongly rejected any suggestion that the season's best team might be considered the premiers.
"No. No. Definitely not! Not at all. I don't agree with that at all. That would be a hollow way to win a premiership," he said.
"We're minor premiers and our record says we've been the best side up until this point."
The Bombers also place plenty of value in the development of their squad, particularly backman Blake Walker and midfielder Sam Emery who stamped themselves as players of the future. While Lenon also pointed out the club's reserve grade side also finished on top of the ladder.
He thanked officials for exploring every option to complete a season, studying public health orders, lobbying government and clarifying the rules before conceding it was over.
"I've gotta give AFL Riverina a rap. What they've been going through to try to keep the seasons alive would be tough. They've extended the season and done everything they possibly could to give us a crack at it. But there's a lot of things that are out of our control," Lenon said.
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