KEVIN Sheedy always knew the Swans-Giants derby would turn into one of Sydney’s biggest events on the sporting calendar.
But unlike the early days when the inaugural Giants coach also had to play the role of salesman and spruik a rivalry that existed only on paper, Sheedy is anticipating Saturday night’s clash will produce something special.
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“This match is going to be like a final,” Sheedy said. “The competition is so close just look at the results over the past weeks, it’s just so important for both teams.
“It’s a final already and don’t think it’s not.”
The four Sydney derbies Sheedy coached in saw an average losing margin of 79 points as the Swans played the role of big brother to perfection showing no mercy to their young rivals.
That’s all been turned on its head in just 12 months with the Giants enjoying for the first time a 2-1 winning record over the Swans last year which included a convincing 36-point win in the first final between the teams.
“Gone are the days the Giants are contributing eight points so the Swans can get into the top four,” Sheedy told the Daily Telegraph.
“It was a gift to the Swans after the Giants were told we weren’t wanted, not anymore.”
Now back at Essendon as general manager of commercial development and innovation, Sheedy won’t be there on Saturday night but he deserves a lot of credit for what the contest has become.
His coaching record took a massive hit while helping lay the foundations of Sydney’s second AFL club with the Giants winning just three of the first 44 games under Sheedy.
But the culture Sheedy installed at GWS and his ability to get the young players to see the bigger picture while loses mounted up has paid off.
The Giants are a genuine premiership threat and the rivalry doesn’t need any pumping up these days.
Saturday’s fixture is a perfect example, the Giants know a victory over the winless Swans would mean more than just bragging rights it would end any slim hopes Sydney have of a finals berth.
Giants might have been easily beaten by the Crows in Round 1 but having watched the Bombers suffer the same fate this weekend Sheedy believes there is no shame in their opening round loss.
“There was no shame in losing to the Crows at Adelaide Oval,” Sheedy said.
“They’ve got the best small forward maybe of all time in Eddie Betts, a great captain and Rory Sloane is a champion. That loss keeps everybody awake at the Giants.”
Originally published as Finals come early for Swans: Sheedy
SOURCE: newsnow sport