AN Ipswich team featuring strong football and family connections united to enjoy a fine achievement at the state championships.
The Ipswich Blackhawks mixed side were crowned Queensland champions at the recent Touch Rugby League (TRL) tournament at Redcliffe.
The Blackhawks won a thrilling grand final 3-2 against Rockhampton Rush, completing a successful 10-game campaign.
More than 800 players, officials and support staff were involved in the two-day tournament with teams from as far away as Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and the Gold Coast.
Among the TRL players were past State of Origin and Australian representatives.
The Ipswich combination included Ipswich City Bulls footballers Ronan Geoghegan, Nathan Manttan and Jimmy Allison.
Geoghegan's girlfriend Sabra Manttan and Nathan's partner Meg Bowmaker were also part of the victorious side.
Sabra is Nathan's younger sister.
Bowmaker is a state netball representative.
All the players had strong sporting backgrounds.
It was the first time the Ipswich Blackhawks won a state title.
"It was a big weekend,'' Nathan Manttan said, proud of what the Blackhawks achieved. "We played really well.''
Manttan said most of the players had joined forces before, being involved in the Monday night competition at Swifts and having contested the past two national titles.
"We've got just a really good mixture of players,'' he said. "We've got some guys who are really creative, who play in the middle and a couple of quick guys and girls that play on the outside of the middle guys.
"We've been playing together now for a little bit and always building and building. It all kind of came together at the right time.''
The St Edmund's College school teacher also regularly plays in the Capital League 2 football competition with Geoghegan and Allison.
Other members of the side are friends from school or other sports.
"That kind of helps,'' Manttan said of the strong team bonds.
Manttan said the standout performers at the state championships were Nikki Cox, Brenton Mirallez and Michael Regino.
"Brenton and Michael combined for a brilliant cut out pass and diving try in the corner to win the grand final on the hooter against Rockhampton,'' Manttan said.
The team was one of two from Ipswich named in honour of the city's strong association with RAAF Amberley. Ipswich's other side was called the Bombers.
The state-title winning Ipswich mixed side was Nikki Cox, Rebecca Kirkup, Sabra Manttan, Meg Bowmaker, Bronte Borg, Kirra Zampech, Brenton Mirallez, Michael Regino, Ronan Geoghegan, Jimmy Allison and Nathan Manttan. Coach: Sam Tremellen.
The Blackhawks side was coached by TRL Ipswich franchise owner Sam Tremellen.
"The team has worked incredibly hard over the past two years to build as a group and the win is a credit to their passion and dedication for the sport,'' Tremellen said.
"We have now truly put Ipswich on the map for representative TRL and we now look forward to the State of Origin Series and Australian Championships."
Manttan hoped some Blackhawks players were selected for the State of Origin series. He expected the Blackhawks to field a team at the Australian titles later in the year.
Meanwhile, the upcoming TRL Ipswich winter seasons start in early June.
Registrations are open at www.trlipswich.com.au.
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