Mario Terranova in full flight for Emerald Eagles. INSET: The three Eagles representatives in Cougars colours on the Sunshine Coast.
Mario Terranova in full flight for Emerald Eagles. INSET: The three Eagles representatives in Cougars colours on the Sunshine Coast.

Eagles flying high

WITHIN a week, three Emerald Eagles footballers have been thrust from relative obscurity on to the state football stage.

Around this time last week Central Highlands players Mario Terranova, Hayden Hearne and Ben Miller were just like any other footballers in the region.

Fast-forward seven days and it appears the trio has earned a regular position in the Capricorn Cougars state league side, after bolstering the player ranks at the weekend against the Sunshine Coast.

While the weekend’s 5-0 loss to the Coast was not the best result for the Cougars, it was a far cry from the 14-point hammering inflicted by the well-regarded Coast side earlier this season.

In any case, results were just a side note for the Emerald boys’ maiden run in the state competition.

Emerald defender turned part-time Cougar, Mario Terranova, said the excitement of pulling on the Cougars’ purple jersey for the first time could not be understated.

“You couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces, we were just ecstatic,” he said.

The fast-tracked selection came after a quick phonecall by Eagles coach John Salogni, who organised a trial training session with the Cougars in Rockhampton on Thursday.

Two days later, the regional reps were boarding a plane in Rockhampton bound for Brisbane where they were whisked away to the Sunshine Coast for the Sunday game.

It wasn’t long before Terranova felt the pain of his first state league injury, badly bruising his ankle midway through the first half and finally succumbing to the injury late in the second half.

After a stirring first display, Terranova said Cougars’ stand-in coach, Blair Burke, was dumbstruck as to why they hadn’t looked at them previously.

“He (Burke) wished we’d jumped on board earlier,” Terranova said. “They hope to make a long-term relationship with Emerald so they have the capacity to use players out here in the future.”

He added the transition from Emerald to Cougars was done with ease.

“We were accepted quite well into the team – at first they were a little stand-offish but after the game they wouldn’t stop talking to us.

“It’s a privilege and an honour to play at such a level and something every player should strive to achieve.”

The middle-man in the business and the one who kick-started the process, coach Salogni, said it was just rewards for the Emerald representatives.

The Eagles headman even took the Cougars for a training session last week before handing over the reins to Burke.

But now that the Cougars have a sniff of the playing potential the Central Highlands offers, Salogni said he expected Cougar’s management to go through the correct channels to secure Eagles players for future matches.

“I just want to make sure the Cougars go through our club first,” Salogni said. “They (players) have got to remember who they play for - their home club comes first.

“We’re developing a team of our own out here as well and if we lose three key players, play a trial match and get flogged, that doesn’t help our club at all.”

Fellow Emerald Eagles player Darra O’Connor was also selected for the Sunshine Coast game but was forced to withdraw.

Back on home soil in the Highlands, it was a warming prospect to think junior and senior players would look up to the players, hoping that one day they too might play with the Capricorn Cougars.

“Not only was I representing the Eagles, I was representing the region and all the clubs and players who are part of it,” Terranova said. “It was disappointing to be playing under a new coach and not have Johnny on the sideline but to know we can hold our own against one of the best teams in the state – that’s a great feeling.”

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