DUAL sports star and Western Bulldogs premiership midfielder Emma Kearney has taken out the NAB AFL Women's best and fairest award in runaway fashion at the W Awards gala event in Docklands on Tuesday night.
Leading into the final round, she led Collingwood defender Chloe Molloy and Greater Western Sydney midfielder Courtney Gum by two votes.
Neither of that pair polled in round seven while Kearney was considered best on ground, taking her final tally to 14.
Molloy, Gum and Fremantle's Dana Hooker were equal-second on nine votes.
Kearney led the competition in disposals this season, averaging 19 per game, and was regularly seen bursting away from the contest as opponents struggled to stop her.
The 28-year-old also plays for the Melbourne Stars in the Women's Big Bash League.
For Kearney, the recognition meant a lot.
"The standard answer would be you don't actually play team sports to win individual awards. It is really special to be recognised by the umpires though," Kearney said.
"For me, this individual award isn't necessarily won by me but the team as a whole. I think my improvement has been a result of the improvement of our team."
Having moved from teaching to a job at the AFL in the coach development team, Kearney has been happier off-field and felt that translated to her football, in her eighth year playing the game.
"I've never won a League best and fairest before and I guess for me, I always aspire to be the best player I can possibly be," Kearney said.
Speculation has swirled about whether Kearney will be at the Dogs next year and she said she is yet to make a decision.
"With all the girls, we're only contracted for a year so I'm yet to sit down with the club and have conversations with them. I'm just letting that play out. I'm enjoying the celebrations at the moment from our Grand Final win. Next week, I'll meet with the club and we'll have a conversation around what my future looks like," Kearney said.
Whether she can keep playing cricket is also up in the air, with the Big Bash season also played during the summer.
"It's really reliant on the fixture for next year, with obviously two teams coming in (North Melbourne and Geelong in 2019), the season could go longer. I'm not sure what the AFL is looking to do," Kearney said.
"That's a conversation I've been having with my cricket coach. He's totally open to the fact that football is my priority."
However, Molloy didn't leave the night empty handed after she was again recognised, this time with the NAB AFLW Rising Star.
Molloy was the unanimous winner, finishing with a perfect total of 50, ahead of the Western Bulldogs' Grand Final best on ground Monique Conti on 39. Adelaide's Sarah Allan was third on 15.
It came after Molloy was crowned the AFLPA best first-year player on Monday.
The defender ranked second in the competition for intercept possessions this season, behind only Brisbane star Kate Lutkins.
Molloy, 19, was drafted with the third overall selection last year, and is the niece of former Magpie Jarrod Molloy.
She was drafted as a forward but injuries in defence meant she had to switch to an end of the ground she had never played at.
Molloy thrived, almost pipping Kearney for the best and fairest.
"I actually had the teammates turn around to me to say 'You're a chance here' (at the end of round six) and I was like 'Nah, no way, no way'. It was a bit surprising. I didn't expect to be that high up there," Molloy said.
Melbourne livewire Aliesha Newman's brilliant three-bounce goal saw her win the Coates Hire Goal of the Year while Carlton forward Tayla Harris took out the Woolworths Mark of the Year.
Newman's effort came against Adelaide in round two at Casey Fields, when she took three bounces in the first quarter and snapped it through from a pocket.
She beat out Crows co-captain Erin Phillips, who kicked a ripper against the Western Bulldogs in round three, and Collingwood captain Steph Chiocci, who won the footy, spun and booted it from 40m to kick the sealer against Melbourne in round four.
Harris' brilliant grab came in round one against Magpies, in the first quarter, when she marked a ball that had gone to the top of the goalsquare while running backwards, over a pack with three Pies defenders.
Also on the podium were Greater Western Sydney forward Phoebe McWilliams against Collingwood, who flew from behind a pack to take a great grab, while the Crows' other co-captain Chelsea Randall went back with the flight against Fremantle in round six.
The winners of both awards were chosen by the 10-person AFLW Awards panel, each of whom who received a vote, while the fans' collective decision counted as a vote.
Pint-sized Western Bulldog Brooke Lochland won the goalkicking award after she finished 12 for the season. Exciting Lion Jess Wuetschner finished the home and away campaign with 11.
2018 NAB AFL Women's Best and Fairest voting
Carlton v Collingwood
3. T. Harris (Carl) 2. B. Davey (Carl) 1. C. Molloy (Coll)
Adelaide v Brisbane
3. S. Frederick-Traub (Bris) 2. K. Lutkins (Bris) 1. E. Zielke (Bris)
Melbourne v GWS
3. R. Cranston (Melb) 2. P. McWilliams (GWS) 1. D. Pearce (Melb)
W Bulldogs v Fremantle
3. E. Blackburn (WB) 2. K. Brennan (WB) 1. E. Kearney (WB)
GWS v Carlton
3. B. Davey (Carl) 2. C. Gum (GWS) 1. T. Harris (Carl)
Melbourne v Adelaide
3. E. Humphries (Melb) 2. M. Hickey (Melb) 1. C. Randall (Adel)
Fremantle v Collingwood
3. D. Hooker (Frem) 2. C. Molloy (Coll) 1. H. Miller (Frem)
Brisbane v W Bulldogs
3. E. Kearney (WB) 2. E. Zielke (Bris) 1. L. Birch (WB)
Adelaide v W Bulldogs
3. E. Phillips (Adel) 2. E. Marinoff (Adel) 1. E. Kearney (WB)
Carlton v Brisbane
3. E. Bates (Bris) 2. B. Moody (Coll) 1. N. Exon (Bris)
Collingwood v GWS
3. J. Dal Pos (GWS) 2. C. Molloy (Coll) 1. E. McKinnon (GWS)
Fremantle v Melbourne
3. D. Pearce (Melb) 2. K. Donnellan (Frem) 1. E. McGuire (Frem)
W Bulldogs v Carlton
3. B. Lochland (WB) 2. E. Kearney (WB) 1. B. Toogood (WB)
Brisbane v Fremantle
3. D. Hooker (Frem) 2. N. Exon (Bris) 1. J. Wuetschner (Bris)
Melbourne v Collingwood
3. S. Chiocci (Coll) 2. J. Lambert (Coll) 1. M. Hope (Coll)
GWS v Adelaide
3. A. Eva (GWS) 2. C. Randall (Adel) 1. C. Gum (Frem)
Melbourne v Brisbane
3. K. Paxman (Melb) 2. D. Pearce (Melb) 1. E. Zielke (Bris)
Fremantle v GWS
3. C. Gum (Frem) 2. E. Bennetts (GWS) 1. D. Hooker (Frem)
Adelaide v Carlton
3. C. Cramey (Adel) 2. E. Marinoff (Adel) 1. K. Loynse (Carl)
W Bulldogs v Collingwood
3. E. Blackburn (WB) 2. E. Kearney (WB) 1. C. Molloy (Coll)
Adelaide v Fremantle
3. C. Randall (Adel) 2. A. Foley (Adel) 1. L. Filocamo (Frem)
Carlton v Melbourne
3. T. Cunningham (Melb) 2. E. O’Dea (Melb) 1. K. Hore (Melb)
Collingwood v Brisbane
3. C. Molloy (Coll) 2. J. Duffin (Coll) 1. A. Anderson (Bris)
GWS v W Bulldogs
3. C. Gum (GWS) 2. E. Kearney (WB) 1. J. Dal Pos (GWS)
Fremantle v Carlton
3. H. Miller (Frem) 2. D. Hooker (Frem) 1. S. Hocking (Carl)
GWS v Brisbane
3. S. Frederick-Traub (Bris) 2. J. Wuetschner (Bris) 1. E. Bates (Bris)
W Bulldogs v Melbourne
3. E. Kearney (WB) 2. K. Paxman (Melb) 1. R. Cranston (Melb)
Collingwood v Adelaide
3. J. Garner (Coll) 2. E. Marinoff (Adel) 1. J. Lambert (Coll)