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DOK’s emotional rollercoaster

Geelong Falcons coach Daniel O’Keefe lifts the TAC Cup premiership cup with co-captains Cooper Stephens and James Worpel. (krockfootball.com.au/Marcel Berens)

IN a matter of seconds, Geelong Falcons coach Danny O’Keefe went through a range of emotions as he watched his side end the club’s 17-year TAC Cup premiership drought last night.

In a see-sawing contest at Etihad Stadium, the Falcons led by three points with seconds left on the clock.

But when Sandringham Dragons bigman Joel Amartey marked 15 metres out, an angry O’Keefe thought his side had blown it.

But those feelings quickly turned to jubilation and celebration when Amartey’s kick slewed off his boot for a behind to give the Falcons their third premiership.

O’Keefe grabbed long-time Falcons’ regional manager Michael Turner in a hug in the coaches’ box and quickly sprinted down on the ground to celebrate with his players.

He was still shaking his head in the rooms after the game as he tried to comprehend one of the most memorable finishes to a TAC Cup decider.

“I feel for young Amartey because he played a good game and he’s had a really good year. It’s a fickle game footy, that’s for sure,” a relieved O’Keefe said following the Falcons’ 13.11 (89) to 13.9 (87) triumph.

“It hasn’t sunk in. I’m still trying to get over what happened in the dying seconds.

“They weren’t nice emotions at the time when he took that mark. But they were flipped on its head as soon as the ball missed.

“It’s been 17 years since we’ve seen this day. I’ve been here for a few years but there’s people who have been here for a lot longer than me and been starved of a Grand Final.

“So to be able to give them a Grand Final and provide them with their own medal is just absolute jubilation from my end.

“We’ve lost three games for the year in the middle of the season and I certainly think we deserve it.”

After a bright start, the Falcons trailed by 20 points at half-time following a six-goal second quarter by the Dragons.

But they grabbed control of the game with a dominant third term, booting 8.2 while holding the Dragons scoreless with best-on-ground Gryan Miers kicking four of his seven goals for the quarter.

The Dragons made one final surge after trailing by five goals heading into the last term to reduce the margin to less than a kick.

O’Keefe knew his players were virtually out on their feet. His mood wasn’t helped when the umpires missed an obvious push-in-the back free kick to Ned McHenry in the Falcons’ goal square in the final minutes.

“That was probably the game if we got that free kick. Whether it be a bit of karma, I’m not sure,” O’Keefe said.

“But I think our boys absolutely deserved to win.

“For a defence that’s been super all year, they were under the pump tonight in that last quarter.”

The last five scoring shots were all behinds, with Falcons key forward Adam Garner hitting the post late.

O’Keefe now joins Terry Bright (1992) and Damien Christensen (2000) as Falcons’ premiership coaches.

Twitter: @GreenBradley