Tipp manager Power hails the quality of prodigal son Colin O'Riordan
By John Harrington
The Tipperary footballers have been given a massive boost ahead of the Munster SFC Final against Cork with the news that Sydney Swans AFL star, Colin O'Riordan, has been given the green-light by his employers to line out for the Premier County.
And if Tipperary were to defeat Cork, O'Riordan would also be available for the All-Ireland series.
The JK Brackens club-man hasn't played for Tipperary since 2015 but has been training with the team for the past number of weeks and, according to team manager David Power, the powerful midfielder is looking like an even better footballer now than he was before he went to Australia five years ago.
“I would say his football ability is actually very, very high considering obviously that he's now used to the oval ball,” said Power this evening. “He's a gas man, he's been practicing before training and doing a bit of practice after training as well over the past couple of weeks.
“He's in a very, very good frame of mind. I actually think he's actually improved as a footballer. In the internal games he's moving the ball fast, he's running fast, he's linking up with the team. It's definitely a positive step.”
O'Riordan's availability has come as a surprise because he wasn't granted permissing to play in the two previous rounds of the Munster SFC against Clare and Limerick.
And Power has revealed that it was the player's own persistence that resulted in him finally getting the green light from Sydney Swans to play against Cork.
“Before the Offaly match, seven days before the Offaly match, Colin did try to make himself available for all the League matches as well but at that moment in time Sydney Swans wouldn’t release him so to be fair to Colin he was probably emailing every week, the head coach. Because as we were winning he was getting itchy feet, even though he was with Charlie McGeever on the sideline during the matches.
“But it kind of came to a head on Sunday evening. He made a phone call and he basically got on to the joint-captains of Sydney Swans and between the joint-captains of Sydney Swans and the head coach, they agreed to let Colin play and again, we’re very thankful to Sydney Swans because he’s obviously under contract so we are very grateful for allowing Colin to play. I suppose, to be fair to Colin, it was his determination and that’s one of his biggest qualities on the field, he wanted to play and he wanted to play for the last number of weeks and he was getting more and more frustrated so it’s great. It’s great for the panel. We now have another player available for selection, which is great.”
If O’Riordan is drafted into the match-day panel of 26 or even the starting 15 for the Munster Final, then another Tipperary player will miss out, but Power isn’t the slightest bit concerned that might have a negative impact on team morale.
“I would have spoken to the team captain and obviously to our leadership group," said Power. "We have a leadership group in the players. Colin trained last night with us, but it's not the case that Colin just started training last night.
“He's been around the set-up for the five to six weeks previous. Most of our panel have played with Colin and also they know how much of a Tipp football man he is.
“So, between talking to Conor and the leadership group, they were more than pleased to see Colin be available for Sunday week.
“Yeah, obviously there's going to be huge competition for the 26. But I suppose you've probably noticed that our 26 has changed every weekend and that's down to the highly competitive internal matches that we have on a Wednesday night.
“And that was to the fore last night. Our training session was excellent because lads want to be part of it, lads want to be on the 26. So, from a management point of view it's great but there's also a great headache there now. But, look, that's a great headache to have, that we have that competition now on the 26.
O’Riordan’s availability is an especially big bonus for Tipperary because they have injury concerns about two other key players who play in the middle of the field – Jack Kennedy and Steven O’Brien – though Power is hopeful they may yet be fit enough to play some part in the Munster Final.
“We’re hoping, by the start of next week, that they’ll be back in full training,” said Power.
“But obviously when they come back training, we still don’t know, we have to see them in training ... it probably will be touch and go for both of them, but we just have to hope that they will be available.”