"Anything you can do, I can do too" might be South Warrnambool defender Ally O’Connor’s mantra after winning the Rebekah Moroney Memorial Medal for the 17 and under best and fairest player.
Ally emulated elder sister Gen’s 2013 win when she finished on 28 votes, two clear of Hamilton Kangaroos goal attack Sarah Cleaver. Camperdown’s Olivia Hickey was third on 24.
Matching her sister’s feat of 12 months earlier was not lost on Ally.
“I’ve always been the little sister so it’s pretty good to get this achievement,” she laughed.
The pair have played alongside each other in the club’s A grade side this season.
“It’s been really good. Me and Gen have connected on the court and it’s helped our friendship off the court.”
Ally’s triumph was an apt result, winning the medal which was named after 2010 victor, Rebekah Moroney, also a goal defence, who died earlier this year at the age of 20 after health complications.
Coincidentally, it was the first time sisters had won the award in consecutive years since Rebekah in 2010 and her younger sibling Sarah in 2011 and 2012.
Ally, 14, was eligible to play in the 15 and under competition this season but coach Gill Herrmann convinced her to step up and try out for the older group.
While she would have liked to play alongside her friends, she had no regrets, enjoying the higher level competition in an unfamiliar position, having started her career in attack as a goalie before a shortage of defenders led her to the other end of the court.
The year 9 Emmanuel College student said she went to last night’s count with low expectations.
She was two votes in front entering the final round but found herself behind after Sarah polled a three. Moments later Ally iced the award with a three vote.
“It’s such a shock,” Ally said.
“I couldn’t breathe really (in the last round), I was shaking so much. I was trying to remember how I played.”
Ally polled in 11 matches after starting the season strongly. She received five threes and a two in six consecutive matches between rounds two and seven. She was voted best-on-court eight times.
Sarah, a goal attack, who was a direct opponent of Ally’s, was delighted to finish runner-up.
“I had no idea, I’m very surprised,” she said.