AFTER a mass exodus of experience and star-power, as Mentone Grammar’s core group of footballers graduated high school, a refreshed window of opportunity opened for a crop of young guns to step up.

The theme of a new era was clear following 2017’s semi-final exit at the hands of Ivanhoe, which also included a new senior coach- Paul Kennedy- an ABC presenter and journalist, who was, from all accounts, a handy footballer himself.

With the captaincy up for grabs, it was TAC Cup midfielder for the Sandringham Dragons, Harry Houlahan, who put his hand up, and he’s relishing the opportunity.

“[It’s a] very big honour,” he said.

“Hopefully I can lead the boys well.”

Houlahan’s season is thus far unblemished, leading the navy-blue and white hoops to a round one victory, as well as participating in the Dragons’ 3-0 start to the TAC Cup.

Rated a draft chance, the tall midfielder has an admirable attitude, stating that despite his desire to make it to AFL level, he will focus on appreciating his involvement in the sport.

“Definitely, would love to get drafted,” he confirmed.

“But I’m not focusing on the end result too much, just want to enjoy my footy.”

For inspiration, Houlahan looks to 209-game, three time All-Australian Sydney Swans star Josh Kennedy.

“He is a great leader, and [I’ve] always looked up to his game being a Sydney supporter,” he admired.

After struggling through pre-season with illness, Houlahan will this year aim to embark on an injury-free run, citing “injuries scattered across the years” as his greatest football challenge.

Leading a young school side, as well as establishing himself as a mainstay off half-back for the Dragons, Houlahan will be a player to watch throughout the 2018 season.

Owen Leonard

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