Michael Cronin and Gerringong
by Barry Ross
Gerringong Coach, Michael Cronin, collected his fourth South Coast Premiership on Sunday 18 September when his club defeated the Warilla Gorillas 10-0 in the Grand Final at Collegians Sports Complex in Wollongong. Played in bleak, wet and slippery conditions, Gerringong were the better side and deserved their win.
Their defence was superb and their error rate small considering the weather. ‘The Crow’, as Michael Cronin is known, has now coached the Gerringong Lions first grade team for 11 seasons. He does the job without any payment, while his players also give their services for free. Many of the opposing clubs in the Group 7 South Coast competition pay their players, but Gerringong do not. Guided by the Crow and President, Daryl Hobbs, the Lions are a well organised and financially sound club.
They had three of their four teams playing in Sunday’s Grand Finals, while their fourth team reached the semi finals. Former Parramatta teammates Peter Wynn and Paul Mares were also at the game to support their mate.
From the opening whistle, Warilla tried to out-muscle their opponents but were not successful because the talented Lions forwards gave as good as they received. Gerringong cleverly used dummy half running on the wet field and this paid dividends.
Both tries were scored by left winger Joel Doosey. The first came 11 minutes in when centre Peter Cronin put him over in the left corner after a blindside raid from 20 metres out. Goal-kicking fullback Joel Roberts landed a penalty goal for a high tackle six minutes after the try and the teams went to halftime with Gerringong leading, 6-0. Nine minutes after the break, Doosey collected his second try following a clever long pass from lock and captain, Brad Davidson.
In the reserve grade Grand Final, the referee William Drury had a sound game, as did female whistle blower Karra-Lee Nolan. The match was played before more than 5,000 fans and this would have been bigger had the weather been more pleasant.
Now 65, Michael Cronin won two Premierships as a player with Gerringong in the early 1970s to go with his four as a coach. While with the Parramatta Eels, he scored 1,971 points from 75 tries, 865 goals and two field goals. He also won four Grand Finals with the Eels and was awarded an OAM in 1985. In his 33 Tests for Australia, he scored 309 points, which places him second on the all-time Individual Test point scoring for Australia, behind Jonathan Thurston’s 332. Michael’s two sons Patrick and Peter, played important roles in the 2016 Grand Final win, as they had done in the previous three.
Gerringong 10 (Joel Doosey 2 tries; Joel Roberts goal) beat Warilla 0.
The 17 man Gerringong team was Joel Roberts, Joel Doosey, Peter Cronin, Corey Mulhall, Taylor Hudson, Patrick Cronin, Rixon Russell, Brad Davidson (Capt.), Michael Brown, Peter Ford, Tim Moore, Nathan Ford, Kal Collins, Isaac Russell, Steve Evans, Jackson Ford and Lloyd Bowen.
Former Test men, Rod Wishart (17 Tests) and Steve Morris (1 Test), had sons involved in the minor grades. Wishart’s two sons were with Gerringong, Callum with the reserves and Tyran with the under 18s.
Slippery Morris’ boy, Dylan, is one of the stars of the undefeated Premiership winning Kiama under 19s.
The minor grade Group 7 Grand Final results were:
Reserve Grade- Shellharbour City Sharks 22 beat Gerringong Lions 12
Under 18s- Kiama Knights 26 beat Gerringong Lions 6
Third Grade-Culburra Dolphins 18 beat Albion Park Outlaws 2
Ladies League Tag- Jamberoo Superoos 6 beat Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs 4