McGinnity backs Royals for finals and future success

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 - 12:24 PM by Chris Pike

PATRICK McGinnity is just excited to be heading back to Claremont Oval to lead East Perth into Sunday's elimination final, but moreover, he is excited about what the future holds for the Royals and wants to be part of it.

McGinnity has committed himself to East Perth as co-captain the last two years after his 93-game AFL career at the West Coast Eagles came to an end as he prepares to lead the Royals into battle on Sunday.

East Perth returns to finals action having finished in fifth position to book a place against Claremont in the elimination final at Claremont which provides for a homecoming of sorts for McGinnity who is a product of the Tigers.

He also played 37 WAFL matches for Claremont up until joining East Perth as part of the Eagles from 2013 onwards and now the elimination final on Sunday will be his 99th appearance at WAFL level on top of 93 AFL games.

While McGinnity's full focus is on success at East Perth and that's where he will end his career, he will always be grateful for what Claremont did to give him the start to his AFL and WAFL career.

"I owe a lot to Claremont and I learned a lot of lessons there, and it was a really good way to start my footy," McGinnity said.

"I do love the footy club still even though I am loving at East Perth and it's my club now, and it will be for the rest of my career. But I have a soft spot for Claremont because they treated me well and I learned a lot of great lessons playing there. I look forward to playing against them again."

McGinnity is looking forward to now being part of the first final hosted at Claremont Oval since 2013 making it the first final at the redeveloped venue.

So he is looking forward to that and the challenge to extend the season of the Royals up against a Tigers team he has plenty of respect for including coach Darren Harris and former teammate Kane Mitchell who will be celebrating his 100-game milestone.

"I enjoy playing against Claremont and I still have a lot of friends there, and I respect their group. I have a lot of respect for Harro as well, he's a great bloke and coach," he said.

"It's the old stomping group from a while back and it's a good place to play footy. I look forward to taking on the boys in a final now.

"I played junior footy with Kane and I have a lot of respect for him, he's a great player and he's a good friend as well. I wish him all the best for his 100th and I have a lot of respect for him. Hopefully we both have a good game and get a kick."

East Perth had to beat Peel Thunder in Mandurah last Saturday to book a place in the finals, and did so with a dominant and emphatic 84-point victory.

That sees the Royals finish in fifth place with a difficult challenge to come against Claremont but McGinnity sees no reason they can't go a long way during the finals if they can beat the Tigers on Sunday.

"I honestly believe that now that we're in it, teams will be worried about us. If we rock up and play good footy, this week will be as hard a game as any of them. It's going to be a tough game but if we can get through it, who knows. Obviously Subi is the standout team, but you never know what can happen once you're in there," McGinnity said.

"We knew we'd get close to playing finals but we weren’t sure if we were actually going to get over the line or not so I'm pretty pumped about it to be honest. It's been a hard year in terms of form and we've played some really good games and some poorer ones, but everyone is really pumped and I'm proud of the group to get there in the end.

"We do have a pretty confident group and we know that our best footy is really good and that we can match it with anyone. But we also know that we need to play four full quarters because that's what let us down against West Perth the week before. We had two really good quarters and two poor ones which meant we lost the game. I think if we play for four quarters we can win any game really."

A win on Sunday for East Perth would mean that McGinnity will get to play his 100th WAFL game in the second week of the finals, but what would mean more to him is reaching 100 matches at the Royals having gone close at West Coast racking up 93 appearances.

But with 61 games only to his credit with East Perth at the moment, he's not sure if he can get there as much as he'd like to.

"I do really wish I could celebrate a milestone at one club but to be honest I don’t know if I will get there," he said.

"A lot of the water has to go under the bridge and I'd have to play two more full seasons to get there. But it is something I'd love to do and playing 100 games for one club would mean a lot. It's not something I've put a lot of thought into but it would be nice.

"It's something I think about a lot because this year my body's been quite good without feeling amazing. 

"I've played pretty much every game I've been available for and haven’t missed through injury, but I definitely feel like I've lost a few yards off my speed and I can't jump at all anymore, and I'm getting caught a lot with the footy. 

"I probably can't get as much out of myself anymore but then you have to weigh up whether it's an age thing or just poor form. It's something I think about a lot but I'm still feeling pretty good and I think if I really wanted to I could probably play for a couple more seasons. But whether I do that or not, I'm not sure."

Over the past five years, McGinnity has felt a real part of the East Perth Football Club and that's why he committed to the club following his AFL career, and the potential of them breaking away from West Coast moving forward has him even more excited about what lies ahead.

McGinnity likes the prospect of helping to start East Perth's time again as a standalone club and would take seriously his responsibility as a senior player to lead the way.

"In terms of going on again, I'm contracted for next year and I'll go along with that no matter what but if we become a standalone club it might give me a bit more incentive to go on," he said.

"I'd want to lead the boys out on their own and I think losing a senior player could hurt the club so that gives me a bit more reason to want to stick around.

"It's exciting times for everyone and we back our club in to make the right decision and that's the job for Dean Turner and Bronte (Howson).

"They do a great job running the club but from a players' perspective, it's given everyone a bit of a spring in their step. It's an exciting time and I'd love to be part of that and if everything goes well, touchwood, I will be."

A lot more will come into McGinnity's decision about how long his career extends for, but what he's developed over the past two years more than ever is a great respect for those long-time WAFL servants.

"It's definitely a big commitment with full-time work and I have a lot of respect for the boys who play WAFL for a long time and combine it with full-time work and a family," McGinnity said.

"Craig Wulff is obviously a legend of our club and to do it as long as he did is absolutely amazing. I have a lot of respect for everyone who does it and it's a big commitment, but it's one you have to enjoy doing. 

"You are doing it for a reason and that's because it's fun and enjoyable. If you keep that in your mind, it makes it easier."