Queanbeyan Tigers star Kel Evans wins Mulrooney Medal
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Queanbeyan Tigers star Kel Evans wins Mulrooney Medal

Kel Evans was just a teenage landscaper from Tathra when he started coming to Queanbeyan to play cricket. Little did he know he would soon be regarded as the best footballer in Canberra.

The Queanbeyan Tigers midfielder was crowned the Mulrooney Medallist as AFL Canberra's best and fairest player at the league's awards night on Monday.

Kel Evans has written his name into the history books.

Kel Evans has written his name into the history books.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Evans snapped Belconnen's five-year stranglehold on the gong to become Queanbeyan's first medallist since Mitch Daniher in 2010.

It caps off a stellar season for the 19-year-old sensation, who has quickly emerged as one of the competition's most electrifying players since Tigers coach Dave Corcoran lured him to football two years ago.

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Watching Evans kick a soccer ball in a cricket warm-up flicked a switch for Corcoran, leading him to approach the Queanbeyan wicketkeeper about pulling on a yellow and black jumper.

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"When I was younger I was right into my cricket and started coming up to play for Queanbeyan as a wicketkeeper and that's how I met Dave, through the cricket club," Evans said in June.

"During an off-season I decided to have a run with footy and just fell in love with it. [I] started going alright so I thought I'd come to Queanbeyan for that instead and it just so happened Dave turned out to be the first-grade coach and he got me on board."

The Tathra product was picked for the Canberra representative side that thrashed the best of the Black Diamond League in May.

If his meteoric rise continues, many wouldn't be surprised if he follows in the footsteps of another Tathra junior that used a stint in Canberra to launch his AFL career.

That player is AFL finals-bound Melbourne Demons forward Aaron vandenBerg.

"It'd be unreal if I was to follow him. I don't know if I'm as talented as him, but it'd be unreal if those opportunities came up, for sure," Evans said.

Britt Tully claimed the women's top prize.

Britt Tully claimed the women's top prize.Credit:Craig Golding

Gungahlin Jets star Britt Tully capped off another superb individual season to claim her third-straight Mary Ann Bainrot medal as the first grade women's best and fairest.

The Greater Western Sydney midfielder has reaffirmed her status as one of the league's premier players, while Riverina Lions star Eliza Oates claimed the women's second grade best and fairest gong.

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Ainslie's Matthew Thompson won the J. McNamara Medal for best and fairest in the second grade competition as he turns his attention to producing another premiership at the Tricolours' flag factory.

Eastlake Demons prospect James McCormack has reaffirmed his status as a player to watch after clinching the T.A. Wharton Medal for the Rising Stars competition.

Molonglo Juggernauts veteran Simon McPherson claimed a third consecutive J.P O'Dea Medal to win third grade's best and fairest award, this time splitting the honours with Cootamundra's James Finucane.

Goulburn Swans star Simon Treloar claimed best and fairest honours in fourth grade.

Queanbeyan's Rising Stars mentor Chris Clifton won the coach of the year gong to cap off a stellar night for the Tigers after they claimed the club championship.

AFL CANBERRA BEST AND FAIREST AWARDS 2018

Mulrooney Medal (men's first grade) - Kel Evans, Queanbeyan Tigers

J. McNamara Medal (men's second grade) - Matthew Thompson, Ainslie Tricolours

T.A. Wharton Medal (men's Rising Stars) - James McCormack, Eastlake Demons

Mary Ann Bainrot Medal (women's first grade) - Britt Tully, Gungahlin Jets

Women's second grade best and fairest - Eliza Oates, Riverina Lions

J.P O'Dea Medal (men's third grade) - Simon McPherson, Molonglo Juggernauts/James Finucane, Cootamundra Blues

Men's fourth grade best and fairest - Simon Treloar, Goulburn Swans

Coach of the Year - Chris Clifton, Queanbeyan Tigers

Club Champion (community grades) - ANU Griffins

Club Champion (senior grades) - Queanbeyan Tigers

Volunteer of the Year - Jenny Church, ANU Griffins

Women’s Rising Star - Jacqueline Parry, ANU Griffins

Junior Women's player of the Year - Jayde Hamilton, Queanbeyan Tigers

AFL CANBERRA GRAND FINALS

First grade - Ainslie Tricolours v Eastlake Demons at Manuka Oval, 2.30pm.
Second grade - Queanbeyan Tigers v Ainslie Tricolours at Manuka Oval, 12pm.
Rising Stars - Queanbeyan Tigers v Ainslie Tricolours at Manuka Oval, 9.30am.
Women's first grade - Eastlake Demons v Queanbeyan Tigers at Manuka Oval, 6pm.
All games on Sunday.

Grand finals for men's third and fourth grade, as well as women's second grade, will be played at Phillip Oval on September 22.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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