Brisbane defender Matthew Eagles soared against Southport in the 2019 NEAFL Grand Final t take home the Andrew Ireland Medal for best-on-ground.
The tall defender tallied 21 disposals and eight marks – four of which were contested – plus five rebound 50s in a superb defensive performance as the Lions cruised to a 79-point triumph.
Eagles was dominant all afternoon long in the air acting as a talisman for the Lions in defence.
Southport’s inaccuracy going inside 50 played into Eagles hands throughout the match with the key defender able to spoil at will.
Eagles, who was named in the NEAFL Team of the Year at full-back, capped off an impressive 2019 campaign with a premiership and the best on ground honours.
In his fourth season with the club, Eagles has been apart of a Brisbane team that has largely struggled prior to 2019.
“There’s an amazing energy around the club, everyone is up and about and I’m loving the vibe at the club at the moment,” Eagles said to neafl.com.au in the aftermath of the premiership win.
Eagles is clearly a very popular member of the group, evidenced by his teammates admiration of his character.
Captain Ryan Bastinac gave Eagles a shining reference after his stellar game.
“He’s a great team man, one of the most selfless blokes at the club,” Bastinac said.
“He did a great job in 2017 (Grand Final) and he’s done it again… he loves the big stage.”
Brandon Starcevich reflected on Eagles importance to the backline as a young developing backline player.
“He sort of sets the precedent for us, he brings a lot of energy to the group and really fires us up and gets us going,” Starcevich said.
When announced as the Andrew Ireland medallist, cheers rang across Fankhauser Reserve from his teammates with almost every player wanting to pat Eagles on the head.
The defender said the Lions will enjoy their celebrations after a long season but had one eye towards 2020.
“We’ll enjoy the win tonight then start to get ready for pre-season next year,” he said.
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