Outgoing fullback Dane O’Hehir has left a lasting impression on his beloved Gundagai Tigers, winning both major awards at their first-grade team presentation that was held over the weekend.
The 27-year-old won both the King Tutty Memorial Best and Fairest and players’ player awards for 2021 and Tigers’ captain/coach Luke Berkrey believed it was a well-deserved send-off for O’Hehir, who will be leaving the club and the town in 2022.
“He definitely was our best and fairest player and he deserved players’ player,” Berkrey said.
“I know the players’ player trophy is one the boys hold close to their hearts because that is when they are recognised by their peers, but as far as what he offered the team, he was comfortably our best player.”
It was O’Hehir’s performances in crunch matches that earned him the praise of his coach and teammates.
“It’s always hard to pick a best and fairest player, but I thought this year that Dane did standout above the rest,” Berkrey said.
“Especially in some key games in the middle of the year, he really stood out and when the chips were down, he was at his best and got us through matches and that is the sign of a good player.”
O’Hehir will play for the Woolgoolga Seahorses in 2022 and Berkrey said he was a player that simply couldn’t be replaced.
“Dane leaves a huge hole, but you can’t bring anyone in to plug that hole and guys around him will have to work hard to replace what he adds to the team,” Berkrey said.
“Plus, he is a really likeable guy and one of our more popular teammates. One of the best parts of his game is what he brings off the field and at training and he will be missed.”
O’Hehir isn’t one to revel in the attention of being named best and fairest and players’ player, but he admitted it was a nice way to finish up his tenure with the Tigers.
“It is a nice way to finish,” O’Hehir said.
“The best way to finish off the season would have been winning a premiership, but it wasn’t to be, so to be recognised for a good season was nice.”
The Tigers have potentially seen the last of the Gundagai product, with the fullback indicating he is unlikely to return.
“At this stage, I’m taking it year-by-year, but I don’t think I will come back to Gundagai at this point,” O’Hehir said.
“I’m not ruling it out, but this is probably my last year with the Tigers.”
While he has enjoyed his time as a Tiger, a passion for travel and discovery will send O’Hehir to Northern NSW.
“I just think it is my time. It is a bit sad, and I would have loved to be going out knowing it would be my last game, because I didn’t know that game against Roos at home would be my last game, but we can’t control that,” O’Hehir said.
“I have loved my time at Gundagai and playing there but it’s time for me to go out there, enjoy life and see what’s out there.”
Playing with the Woolgoolga Seahorses in the Group 2 competition, O’Hehir will face the likes of Greg Inglis and potentially Sam Burgess in what is shaping to be a very strong competition.
“One of my mates was considering signing for them throughout the year, and that fell through, and they passed my name on and they gave me a call,” O’Hehir said.
“It is a club quite like Gundagai. It is a small town with a good culture around their footy.
“They haven’t won a comp before, and they are excited for their chances for next year and it would be awesome to win a comp for the first time with them.
“It should be pretty strong too. Greg Inglis (Macksville) is playing in it, and Sam Burgess (Orara Valley) is coaching and maybe playing.”