The 126 seconds that decided the Grand Final & the 16yo ‘rarity’ who made it happen

It took Shea Connors just two minutes and six seconds to write her name in the history books at Sydney FC.

Off the bench with 66:48 on the clock – with the score in the 2023-24 Liberty A-League Grand Final locked at 0-0 – and onto the scoresheet just 126 seconds later, Connors raced behind Melbourne City’s defence to score the only goal of a tightly-contested title fight and confirm back-to-back Championships for the Sky Blues.

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“It’s so special,” Connors said post-game.

“I literally thought I was going to have a heart attack on the field after I scored, because (I’ve) been working so hard for something – and it could not have come at a better moment.”

Connors’ 69th-minute match-winner was her first goal in Sky Blue after an off-season move from Brisbane Roar.

The defining moment of this season’s Grand Final was a significant accomplishment for Connors after a campaign rocked by a serious injury suffered in December.

“It was really tough,” Connors said. “I broke my foot in two places, so for me to be back for finals was incredible. I’m so proud that we got here, because it was such a tough year with Nat (Tobin), Fiona (Worts), Kirsty (Fenton) – big injuries across the board. It was amazing we were here at all. I’m so happy this group got it together.”

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Connors was assisted for the Grand Final winner by Indiana Dos Santos who, at the age of 16, clinched the second Championship of her young career on Saturday evening.

The highly-rated teenager’s delivery for the winner was a stellar display of composure, creativity and perfect timing as Dos Santos picked out Connors without the American striker needing to break stride.

Watching on for Network 10 were Matildas Grace Gill and Elise Kellond-Knight – two players who know what it takes to get to the top of the game in Australia through the Liberty A-League.

Both Gill and Kellond-Knight spoke glowingly of Sydney’s 16-year-old two-time Champion.

“It’s not a bad story, to rock up to school on Monday and share with your peers!” Gill said.

“When you’re 16 years old and you’ve been involved in your second Championship-winning team – that’s a rarity. I’m not sure any other player across the history of the A-League at that age would be able to profess such a thing.

“She’s a young talent, we’ve known for the last 12 months she has been. She’s been brought back into the side in recent weeks under Ante Juric, unchanged in the last three week’s that starting side, and Indi was key tonight.”

Indiana Dos Santos.

“It’s so important these 15, 16, 17-year-old players are getting critical game time – and that’s exactly what she’s had this season,” Kellond-Knight replied.

“This current crop of Matildas all started to get really decent game time at that age, and the more we can develop them into the league and see her consistently play, she’s definitely going to end up at a high level.”