Memorial team’s emotional win at CQ league carnival
There were emotional scenes as the Mona Barada Kielly Memorial Team won the women’s grand final at the weekend’s Warba Wangarunya Rugby League Carnival.
They ran out 18-12 winners over two-time defending champions Emu Park, who this year played as the Emu Park Emus Keb Oakley/Dave Lennox Memorial Team.
The Tereek Conlon Memorial Wagtails took the honours in the men’s decider with a 30-14 win over the Bamaga Roos.
Rockhampton’s Rugby Park was a hive of activity as 18 men’s and six women’s teams took part in the two-day carnival, hosted by Darumbal Community Youth Service.
Organiser Jamie Simpson said it was an amazing event, with the two thrilling grand finals typifying just how closely fought the carnival was this year.
The women’s winners, who have previously contested the carnival as The Highlanders, this year played in honour of Mona Kielly, a highly regarded Indigenous elder who died from cancer in September 2019.
The line-up featured a number of her relatives, including granddaughter Jasmine Comollatti, and was coached by great niece Nicole Muller and niece Tracy Upton.
“That was the perfect result,” Muller said.
“To make the grand final was one thing but then winning it under her name, that’s just a dream come true for us.
“It means a lot.”
Mona’s daughter and Jasmine’s mother Melanie Kielly was among a host of family members who watched the team’s unbeaten run at the carnival.
She said the players wore maroon and gold because Mona was a “mad keen Broncos fan”.
“I’m all kinds of emotional. We had the jersey presentation yesterday (Saturday) and I could barely talk,” she said.
“I live away now and it’s really hard for me to come into Rocky without her (Mona) being here.”
Muller said the team played with pride and passion.
Fullback Courtney Robinson was rewarded for her consistency, named the women’s Player of the Carnival.
Muller said the team was well led by experienced campaigners Amy Gilbert and Natalie Gala.
Fallon Ord, who turned 35 on Saturday, was an inspiration in the second row while Emma Paki proved she’s a player to watch and Sharni Upton showed she had skills to burn.
“We had a strong team of girls in there who knew what their roles were, and they gelled really well together,” Muller said.
“I’m happy to get the win against Emu Park but I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.”