GETTING the match-ups right is a tedious but important task for coaches heading into any football match.
When you’re in a grand final, the significance of getting it correct is amplified.
While all 22 players are important in the end result, nullifying those who can cause the most damage is crucial.
Andy McKay will have given Buninyong coach Joe Gilbert a few headaches over the past week as he heads into the Central Highlands Football League grand final.
While he hasn’t reached the heights that saw him take home last year’s Geoff Taylor Medal, McKay has had another standout season for the Burras.
His ball-winning ability around the ground, silky skills, and nous around goal are what makes him a potential match-winner and a vitally important part of Hepburn’s chances of an upset victory this afternoon.
The midfielder/forward also knows what it takes on the big stage.
McKay is a two-time premiership winner with the Burras – named best-on-ground with eight goals in the 2008 triumph and played an important hand in the win in 2010.
While Hepburn coach Clive Raak will relish McKay at his disposal, he will also have his own concerns.
Buninyong onballer Sam Turner is certain to have been the focus of plenty of discussion.
Like McKay, Turner was named in the league’s team of the year in 2013 and has led his side from the front all year.
He possesses a hunger to win his own ball, is damaging around the contests and regularly floats forward to kick important goals. This is evidenced by his bag of four in the preliminary final win over Waubra on the weekend.
Of course, there’s plenty of other match-winners outside McKay and Turner.
Buninyong boasted three other players – imposing ruckman Anthony Ebery, skipper Adam Scott and midfielder Jarrod Morgan – in the team of the year, with Gilbert named coach after an undefeated home and away campaign.
Outside McKay, Hepburn had wingers Ken Cummings and Daniel Rees selected in the squad, as well as spearhead Lee Cox, who booted eight goals last time the Burras played in a grand final.
Buninyong has just had the one blemish this year – against the Burras in the qualifying final – and is the $1.75 favourites with Sportsbet to bring home the premiership for the first time since 2002.
Hepburn, premiers last in 2010, is the outsiders at $2.05.
Today’s clash kicks off from 2.45pm at Eureka Stadium, Ballarat.