HATHERLEIGH Football Club captain Gerard McGrath has been elevated to A Grade coach for the 2019 Mid South East Football Association season.
The position fell vacant last month when Jase Faulkner stood down after two seasons in charge.
Hatherleigh president Deon Chester said his committee was pleased to make the appointment of McGrath and expected Faulkner would continue as a player.
“Gerard knows the workings of the club,” Chester said.
“He knows our culture and how we like to promote the kids.
“He has that experience at Centrals and in Darwin and will be a very good leader.”
McGrath has been in remarkable form since returning to his home club at the beginning of 2016.
Since then he has played 40 games with the Eagles, been listed in the best players on 23 occasions and achieved representative honours.
His 2018 season was disrupted by a hand injury, which sidelined him for six games.
McGrath only played one full season of A Grade with the Eagles as a teen over a decade ago and then headed to the Roseworthy campus of the University of Adelaide.
During this time, he played in the Reserves with Central Districts in the SANFL at the time when the Bulldogs enjoyed a period of unprecedented premiership success.
After his tertiary studies, he returned to the South East with his employment, starred at Lucindale and was included in the SA Country team.
McGrath was runner-up for the Mail Medal in the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League.
A knee injury sidelined him for a lengthy period and he then lived in Darwin for a number of years.
Another sporting pastime is cricket and he is president of the Furner/Beachport Cricket Club.
His elder brother Dr Sean McGrath is a Hatherleigh Reserves footballer and a fellow top-order batsman with Furner/Beachport.
It is the third consecutive Hatherleigh coaching appointment where the Eagles have promoted their captain to coach.
The club has only looked beyond its playing list on one occasion since the 1990s to source a coach and that was Kingston’ Simon Beggs, who delivered two flags.
The announcement of McGrath as coach was made at Hatherleigh’s annual trophy presentation event on Friday night.
The prestigious T.R. Skeer Memorial Medal as A Grade best and fairest was won by assistant coach Caolan Buckley who had a stellar season with the Eagles.
Premiership Reserves coach Darren Paul has stood down and the role will be jointly filled in the 2019 Mid South East Football season by players Tim Merrett and Tom Pegler.
There are four clubs in the Mid South East Football League which have re-appointed their coaches for 2019 – Robe (Jack Kelly), Mount Burr (Tom Renzi), Glencoe (Zacc Cocks) and Nangwarry (David Stratman) – while the other four clubs are in limbo.