Thursday 29 September 2016

O'Riordan still living Premier dream in Oz

Michael Verney and Jackie Cahill

Published 14/06/2016 | 02:30

AFL recruit O’Riordan was feeling sorry for himself after the Sydney Swans were earlier turned over by city rivals Greater Western Sydney. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
AFL recruit O’Riordan was feeling sorry for himself after the Sydney Swans were earlier turned over by city rivals Greater Western Sydney. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

He may have been over 17,000km away from Tipperary's historic triumph over Cork but Colin O'Riordan still felt like he was right in the thick of things at Semple Stadium.

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Going to bed on Sunday night AFL recruit O'Riordan (right) was feeling sorry for himself after the Sydney Swans were earlier turned over by city rivals Greater Western Sydney in both first-team and reserve action. But his mood quickly changed.

The 20-year-old found it hard to sleep but when he did eventually doze off he was soon awoken when his phone went into overdrive at four in the morning. And he couldn't resist taking a look.

Tagged in a tweet saying that 'Colin will be smiling in Sydney' he didn't believe it at first but the truth of the Premier's 3-15 to 2-16 defeat of the Rebels, their first in 72 years, was quickly confirmed. It brought his sleep to an abrupt but welcome halt.

"I tried to get back to sleep but there was no chance of that, my heart was racing, the blood was flowing so there wasn't a hope. It was weird, I felt so close to the boys and then a million miles away," he said.

"I was lying in bed, looking up at the ceiling and thinking about all the great times we had together as a team, how far we've come since we started and the journey we're on. But I don't want this to be about me.

"This is 100pc about the boys. I had a small part to play but the boys have been unreal to get the win against all the odds. A few years ago we would've lost a game like that after going ahead.

"They have belief in themselves and that's what sets them apart from every other Tipperary team that went out against Cork. Our age group all the way up along believe that they can achieve. The talent is there and it's just a matter of lads buying into it."

The "proudest Irishman in Sydney" was on a high as he strode into the Swans training ground in a Tipperary jersey later that morning, trying to explain to puzzled team-mates just how big a shock this result was.

He texted many of his former team-mates with a tear in his eye and watched The Sunday Game in delight later that afternoon. With a big scalp under their belt he urges the young Tipperary side to throw the kitchen sink at Kerry in a rare Munster final.

"Kerry set the standard for Ireland, not just Munster, year in year out they're one of the best teams in the country. But let's go down and give it a crack like they did the other day," he said.

Taking all of the emotion into account, you have to ask whether the breaking of this glass ceiling has fuelled a desire to return to the Tipperary fold some day? O'Riordan was U-21 captain when Tipp stormed to Munster glory in 2015 and admits he has dreams of lining out for his county again.

"I'd love to," he confirms. "Sunday whetted my appetite even more. The weirdest things go through your head, like 'could I get home for the Munster final? Will I, won't I?'

"But then you come out of dreamland and back to reality. There's no chance of that and it takes you back a step but I'd love to play for Tipp again.

"I'll go to some pub and watch it. There's no chance of me getting home, which is a bit disappointing but hopefully they'll have more days when I'm involved."

For the moment he's "loving life" Down Under, however, and is closing in on a first senior appearance after giving some standout performances for the Swans reserves. So it looks like Liam Kearns and Tipp will be waiting a while.

"I'm just loving it over here and I'm loving the game," he said. "You could get the call-up any time and I want to push on more again."

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