Colin O'Riordan: 'It wasn't easy not being there. I shed a few tears'
Colin O'Riordan admits that he went through the whole range of emotions watching Tipperary book their place in a first All-Ireland senior football championship semi-final since 1935.
The Premier County's AFL export with the Sydney Swans was naturally elated to watch his former colleagues seal a sensational Croke Park quarter-final success against Galway but sad too that he wasn't there to share in the joy.
O'Riordan watched the nine-point victory on his iPad, tuning in via the GAAGO service in the early hours of the morning.
The game threw-in at 1am Sydney time and O'Riordan (right) had his alarm set for 12.55 before settling down in his bed to watch those seismic events unfold.
The 20-year-old smiled: "I watched it all, watched it bed at home on GAAGO.
"The final whistle blew and honestly, tears started rolling down my face."
O'Riordan managed to get a few hours of interrupted sleep but with Monday off, he struggled to put down the day.
He revealed: "I was sitting at home, which probably wasn't the best thing, staring at the ceiling and thinking - what were the chances? To be honest with you, it was the best draw we could have got.
"Two years ago we played them and also the year before, when I wasn't on the panel.
"If we hadn't leaked the goals early in 2014, we would have been right in it and while there was a lot of talk about them (Tipp) missing lads, it doesn't seem to affect them. They have who they have and it's unreal. It shows serious character."
O'Riordan had no fears about Tipp's ability to adapt to uncharted territory - as they bounced into Croke Park to produce a blistering display.
And he noted: "You have lads on that team who haven't lost a game at Croke Park - hurling or football.
"It's a huge stadium and an unreal stadium but it's only unreal when you win.
"I read somewhere that that was Galway player Shane Walsh's seventh time playing there and he hasn't won there. But we have lads who played there seven or eight times and won every game.
"It's a massive advantage for us and the whole fear factor in Croke Park is made up to be something it's not.
"Underage and up along, we've shown we play our best football in Croke Park. It's just a matter of getting there."
And O'Riordan, a 2011 All-Ireland minor medallist and captain of last year's Munster U-21-winning crop, sees no reason why Tipp can't go further in the 2016 senior championship.
He said: "It's the year of the underdog, hopefully. Obviously Mayo or Tyrone is another big challenge but Galway did Mayo in Connacht and it's inches between every team. If a team gets a run on you, you're in trouble but we have nothing to fear."
O'Riordan admits that the early stages of Sunday's game were "shaky" as Galway moved 0-4 to 0-1 clear with Tipp struggling to settle.
He added: "The first ten minutes were a bit shaky alright. We kicked a few wides and dropped a few into the 'keeper's hands but I felt that if they settled, they had a right chance. You could see they were cutting Galway to shreds - they just weren't making it count on the scoreboard.
"Liam Kearns said after the game that he told the lads at half-time that they had great chances but didn't convert, and to just keep making them."
O'Riordan, unfortunately, doesn't think he'll make it home for Tipp's All-Ireland semi-final on August 21, due to club commitments.
He said: "I don't think so, to be honest, unless things go pear-shaped in the club. But I'll be glued to the game. I bought 'The Sunday Game' highlights so that I could watch what they said at night-time as well.
"You think the strangest things. I'd go as far as to say that I was the happiest man in the world when I saw the game but then you start staring at the ceiling, it dawns on you that you grew up with these lads and that you'd love to be there.
"It wasn't easy, I did shed a few tears and I've no problem saying that. It's a weird kind of emotion, so happy and, to be honest, sad at the same time.
"I can't really put it into words but at the end of the day I'm a proud Tipp man and I want them to succeed and reap the rewards for the effort they're putting in."
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