By JESS WEBSTER
Sydney University midfielder Tom Young made it back-to-back Driscoll Medal victories when he held off Zac O’Brien in a close count on Friday night.
The 2015 NEAFL MVP won with 270 votes, 18 ahead of O’Brien (252) with young defender and NEAFL Team of the Year member, Ryan Hebron, coming in third (243).
The former Collingwood and Western Bulldogs player has been one of the stars of the competition since returning home to Sydney University in 2015, with a NEAFL MVP and two club best-and-fairest awards from the past three seasons.
The 25-year-old said with so many contributors across the board, it was hard to see himself winning the best-and-fairest.
“I didn’t expect to win it. I was consistent throughout the year but I didn’t really have many massive games like Zac and Lewy (Stevenson) and heaps of the young guys played really well too,” he said.
“I just didn’t think I was a chance, to be honest.”
Sydney University advanced to the Preliminary Final for the third consecutive season, going to down to eventual premier Brisbane at the last hurdle.
Young said it was pleasing to play finals again, but the group is confident they have plenty of improvement ahead in 2018.
“Obviously we want to play in a flag. It was our third year in a row finishing third, but I think this year was definitely a lot stronger than my first years at the club, as far as how we are structured now.
“Hopefully next year we can get the balance right.”
Young back-flipped on an interstate move last off-season to remain at Sydney University, where he’s played another crucial role amongst a new-look Students lineup.
He said it turned out to be the right decision after an enjoyable season with the club, and is looking forward to what lies ahead.
“It was a realy tough decision to make, but looking back, it was definitely the right one,” he said.
“It was probably the most enjoyable year I’ve had.”
In other awards, O’Brien was awarded best Finals Player and NEAFL Team of the year member Darcy Baron-Hay won the Best Development Player/Rookie award.
Driscoll Medal Top 5
270 votes: Tom Young
252: Zac O’Brien
243: Ryan Hebron
234: Damien Bonney
230: Jack Hiscox
2017 Sydney University Award Winners
Driscoll medallist: Tom Young
Driscoll medallist runner-up: Zac O’Brien
Best Finals Player: Zac O’Brien
Coaches Award: Tim Barton
Players Player: Nathan Cooper
Best Development Player/Rookie: Darcy Baron-Hay
Outstanding Contribution: Lloyd Perris for his development work and coaching
Volunteer of the Year: Jay Phousangiem (NEAFL Team Manager)
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