Colin O’Riordan didn’t so much ask Sydney Swans if he could line out for Tipperary in Sunday’s Munster final. Rather, the 25-year-old sent his club an “emotional plea”, explaining to Australian teammates and coaches what it means to him to play football for his native county.
Having had his initial request to fall in with Tipperary ahead of the League resuming turned down, O’Riordan again made contact with Sydney the day after David Power’s side scored an extra-time win over Limerick in the provincial semi-final.
His emotional appeal did the trick and O’Riordan is forever grateful to the Swans for allowing him realise a boyhood dream of playing in - and winning - a Munster final.
This desire to be involved “on the big occasion” is what prompted O’Riordan to return to his club a second time in the hope that minds could be changed. For, as he said after Sunday’s win, it would have been “heartbreaking” to have missed out on the county’s first Munster senior crown since 1935.
When contacting his club on Sunday, November 8, the same day as Cork dumped Kerry out of the Championship, O’Riordan didn’t mention Collingwood’s Mark Keane, the special dispensation he had received, or the match-winning goal he kicked.
“I didn’t go down that path at all,” O’Riordan begins.
“I just put in an emotional plea and explained to them what it means for me to play for Tipp.
“I can’t have anything but good things to say about Sydney. They gave me my chance to make my dreams come true and for that, I’ll be forever grateful to them.”
Although Power said last week that O’Riordan would be available to Tipperary for the remainder of the Championship, the man himself has confirmed he’ll “liaise with Sydney again and see what the story is” ahead of the Mayo semi-final on Sunday, December 6.
I’m not going to say I’m going to definitely be there. If they tell me they don’t want me to play, then that will be it. As sad as that is, I’m contracted to Sydney.”Advertisement
Recalling the “emotional rollercoaster” he went through while watching the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final between the counties, he won’t want to miss this latest instalment.
“I always say that was one of the most emotional rollercoasters I had, watching that game at two in the morning. That was a hard one to stomach, especially because it was my first year gone.
“If you told us at the start of this year we’d be in an All-Ireland semi-final, you’d take your arm off for it, and to be in it as Munster champions is even more special.”
Manager David Power spoke of an “inner belief” following the three-point win over Cork, with O’Riordan remarking how theirs was a dressing-room full of confidence before throw-in.
“Sometimes, you come into a dressing-room and you feel, ‘this is a special group’. That’s what it felt like. It might sound weird to some people who haven’t experienced it, but sometimes you walk in and just feel, ‘you know what, today is going to be a good day.’
“I just walked in there full of confidence and I think the other boys walked in full of confidence. That’s what got us over the line.”
The special commemorative Bloody Sunday jersey he wore will be framed and hung in his bedroom, but there won’t be a similar fuss made of where his Munster medal goes. Indeed, O’Riordan, until it was pointed out to him, was completely oblivious to the fact that he now has the full set of Munster minor, U21, and senior medals.
The Killea man is one of six Tipperary players to see action on Sunday - Evan Comerford, Jimmy Feehan, Kevin Fahey, Bill Maher, and Steven O’Brien the other five - who have now featured in Munster final wins at the three aforementioned grades.
“We wore the jerseys in training matches and got used to it. It sounds like a simple incidental thing, but that can rattle teams. We spoke about it, what it means to play for Tipp, the passion you have to bring, and I guess the weekend that was in it, it was fitting that we won the Munster final.”