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Ahearn achieves Devils greatness with fourth title

Jack Ahearn has established his name among the greatest of Norths Devils with his record-equalling fourth Player of the Year title.

Ahearn matched Kevin Carmichael’s record last night when the Devils celebrated another Hostplus Cup premiership season at the club’s presentation night.

Carmichael, like Ahearn a Devils premiership captain, was the Devils Player of the Year in 1993, 1998, 1999 and 2001. He was followed by Cameron Smith (2002) and Cooper Cronk (2003).

Ahearn has won the last four titles for the Devils in a dominant streak since he joined the club for then coach Rohan Smith for the 2018 season.

He also claimed the Norths Old Boys’ Player of the Year title for a season during which Ahearn and co-captain Michael Sio led the Devils on a stunning seven-game winning streak that included their second consecutive premiership.

“It’s an honour to win this award knowing the history of this club and especially knowing what Kevin Carmichael has meant to this club over so many years,” Ahearn said.

“But I’m only here because of what we do together as a squad. There was such a great sense of belief in the squad this year and we had leaders across the field.

“To win back-to-back premierships is something that is still sinking in.”

Ahearn was joined on stage last night by Liam Horne, who claimed the prestigious Bob Bax Award as the Devils’ most promising player. That award had been won by the likes of Smith, Greg Inglis, Matt Gillett and Herbie Farnworth.

Horne was also named the Hostplus Cup Players’ Player, recognising his performances across a season that led to his international debut for PNG Kumuls.

The Play of the Year went to Tyson Gamble and Brayden McGrady for their kick and chase combination that delivered the final try of the grand final victory over Redcliffe two weeks ago.

Co-coaches Kevin Neighbour and Ben King discussed the Devils’ premiership run, highlighted by wins over the top three teams in the finals series. Both men stepped up when Rohan Smith was signed as Leeds Rhinos coach after Round 5, orchestrating the Devils’ 15th first-grade premiership in the club’s 90th season.

For the Hastings Deering Colts, Zach Brooks was named Player of the Year while Isaac Hawes received the Players’ Player award.

The Devils also acknowledged the contribution of Sio, who may have played his last season for the club.

Sio will most likely head back to his native New Zealand after five outstanding seasons for the Devils, capped with his leadership role in back-to-back premierships.

“We can’t overstate his importance to this club and to what we’ve been able to achieve as a team,” Ahearn said.

“He’s set an example and he should go down as one of the legends of this club.”

The Devils have begun their off-season, emerging without injury from last Sunday’s loss to Penrith in the NRL State Championship match.

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