Guy McKenna hits back at junior jibe

Premiership defender Guy McKenna has hit back at criticism from Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane, saying he’ll forever be proud of what he achieved as coach of the Suns.

McKenna was axed as Gold Coast coach at the end of 2014 despite having a year to run on his contract.

Cochrane stirred the pot last month when he said the AFL erred in appointing McKenna as the club’s inaugural coach, instead of an experienced mentor like Leigh Matthews.

Cochrane claims the Suns were beset by cultural issues by the time Rodney Eade took over as coach in late 2014.

GWS took the opposite approach to Gold Coast, appointing AFL legend Kevin Sheedy as its inaugural coach, and former Port Adelaide premiership coach Mark Williams as a senior assistant.

But McKenna hit back at Cochrane’s claims that Gold Coast made a mistake by appointing a ‘junior’ coach.

“His point was about experience versus youth,” McKenna told Perth radio station 6PR.

“Well Choco Williams and Kevin Sheedy had five flags and about 2000 games of experience.

“And in that period of time he talks about – the (first) four years in the AFL – well if you want to go tit for tat, GWS won 21 games, and our coaching group was able to win 24.

“So with no experience, I don’t think that was a bad job … in a non footy market and all those sort of things.

“I’m not saying I was perfect or the club was perfect.

“But I was part of the football club that gave a lot of boys their opportunity in the AFL. I’m certainly proud of what we started up on the Gold Coast.”

The Suns were on track to make the finals in 2014 after winning seven of their first nine games.

But a season-ending injury to skipper Gary Ablett derailed their charge, with the Suns winning just three more games for the season as the club’s casualty ward continued to climb.

Eade has encountered similar injury difficulties at the Suns.

Gold Coast won just four games last year, and they currently sit 16th on the table following a 10-match losing run.

McKenna has since joined Essendon as an assistant to coach John Worsfold.

The pair played together in West Coast’s 1992 and ’94 flags, and they’ll head west again this week for Thursday night’s clash with the Eagles at Domain Stadium.

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