Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

O'Nial notches up 100 games with Raiders

Joshn O'Nial played his 100th game for the Moama-Echuca Border Raiders on Sunday.

GEORDIE COWAN May 15, 2014 3:04am

Joshua O'Nial played his 100th game for the Raiders on Sunday.

Josh O’Nial may play in central defence for Moama-Echuca Border Raiders reserves soccer team, but he prefers to be striker.

‘‘Everyone knows that,’’ the 19-year-old said.

O’Nial played his 100th game for the Border Raiders on Sunday — one of a select few to reach the milestone since the club was formed in 2002.

Having only started at the club about five years ago, O’Nial played 17 under 16 games before moving straight into the senior grades at age 15.

While unsure if anyone else had reached 100 games — ‘‘I don’t think anyone else has bothered to keep track of how many games they’ve played’’ — O’Nial said he was proud to reach the figure, especially at his local club.

‘‘I’m just happy they keep putting me on the pitch every week,’’ he said.

‘‘I must be doing something right.’’

O’Nial, who studies engineering at university in Ballarat and returns home every week for training and the match, feels like he plays in a smart way.

‘‘I try to do the least amount of work to take the ball off the opposition player,’’ he said.

What he most enjoyed about the club was the good atmosphere, O’Nial said.

‘‘After training everyone comes back to have a beer and get a meal sometimes,’’ he said.

‘‘Everyone’s close together and you get to know everyone, even if there is a 15-year age gap.’’

That club bonding is one of the things O’Nial has noticed change during his time at the club.

‘‘I feel like they’re all closer together,’’ he said.

‘‘When I first started playing reserves, the women and the men trained on different nights and because the women played earlier (on Sundays), none of the men were there to watch.

‘‘But as the club’s gone on, they’ve changed all that and everyone knows everyone.’’

While his team ‘‘could be going better’’ this season, O’Nial thought the team would improve as everyone got to know each other.

‘‘About 50 per cent of our team are backpackers, so they all speak different languages and we have to try to communicate with them,’’ he said.

‘‘But hopefully towards the end of the season we’ll know each other better and improve.

‘‘It’s always fun.’’

Geordie Cowan

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