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'It just goes to show the passion of the man that he wants to play with Tipperary'

Sydney Swan Colin O’Riordan played a major role in Tipperary’s Munster final success.

Colin O’Riordan celebrates at the final whistle.
Colin O’Riordan celebrates at the final whistle.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

COLIN O’RIORDAN’S FIRST game for Tipperary since 2015 saw him collect a Munster senior medal to go with the U21 and minor titles he won as an underage player. 

After signing with the Sydney Swans in 2015, it was a day O’Riordan might have thought would never come. 

But there he was in Pairc Ui Chaoimh yesterday, the heartbeat of Tipperary’s midfield driving them on until the finish.

O’Riordan’s selection in the starting team this was one of the big talking points on The42 GAA Weekly with Marc Ó Sé and Shane Dowling. He only received permission from the Swans to line-out in the game following the Premier’s semi-final win over Limerick and was put straight into the first XV.

“He was training for the last six or eight weeks, if you’re training for that long I’d say totally justified,” said Ó Sé.

“Then again, what’s going on behind closed doors – we don’t know. But, if you are producing the goods inside in training for six or eight weeks, totally justified. Go for it.”

The Kerry legend then recalled how Tadhg Kennelly, also of the Swans, almost appeared for the Kingdom in similar circumstances during the 2002 championship after taking a trip home from Australia. 

“I remember Tadhg Kennelly came home from Australia in 2002. He was over there maybe two or three years and Paidi [Ó Sé] was thinking of going for him. He was in training maybe two weeks.

tadhg-kennelly-and-joe-bergin-792002-digital Tadhg Kennelly played for Kerry in the 2002 All-Ireland U21 semi-final after returning home from Australia on holiday. Source: INPHO

“And he eventually didn’t go with him. Now I don’t think that was the reason we lost to Armagh the same year, I think the reason was we didn’t have Maurice Fitzgerald. 

“We cast our minds back to two weeks ago and we look at Mark Keane getting a goal against Kerry. He had a very poor game if you look at the whole game and next thing he gets his leg to the ball towards the end and he’ll be remembered forever more. So there’s inches is what I would say there.

“To be fair to Colin O’Riordan, my God. The balls he caught, he was very influential. And it just goes to show the passion of the man that he wants to play with Tipperary, he wants to be involved. He obviously went to his club in Australia and said, ‘This is something I’m passionate about that I want to be involved in.’ 

“It’s a win-win because he’s training away, he’s active, he’s not neglecting his body. He’s playing away and winning Munster titles, fair play to him.”

Another player that impressed the pair was Michael Quinlivan, who was supposed to spend the year travelling before Covid put paid to his plans.

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“I’ve watched this fella closely, I’ve played against him a good few times,” said Ó Sé.

“We used to have meetings about Michael Quinlivan, we used to say, ‘How are we going to tackle this fella?’

“That’s how good a player he is and it’s something we really zoomed in on. And as much and all as we did, he was still coming out with a goal, 1-3 or 1-4 against Kerry on a given day. A serious footballer that I’ve great time for and I think he’d walk onto any inter-county team.

“I was watching the way he was making his runs and he wasn’t staying totally inside. He was coming out to outside the D. But there was one ball he got where he was coming in on the left hand side, he just stopped in his tracks, turned and then totally lost his marker and kicked it over the bar with his right leg.

“When he needed to get scores he got them. Looks really sharp at the moment and a player that Tipperary if they’re going to really go at Mayo, they really need this fella.”

With only Mayo standing between the Premier and a place in the All-Ireland final, Ó Sé gives David Power’s side a great chance of reaching the 19 December decider.

“You look at Mayo, the way they’ve changed their team around. James Horan has done a great job, but I still think he’s not too sure about what his best 15 is.

“That said, the young fellas he’s brought in have been outstanding. This is going to be a great game. Imagine watching All-Ireland semi-finals, you’re watching Tipperary against Mayo and Dublin against Cavan. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

“I think it’s going to be a phenomenal game. Mayo have had a break that will help them. It’s going to be an intriguing battle. Will Mayo have the defenders to stop [Conor] Sweeney and Quinlivan?

“Will Tipperary have the defenders to stop Cillian O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea? Great battle that we’re really looking forward to. The way the games have gone, who knows where it’s going to go.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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