Swans defender Colin O’Riordan claims emotional GAA title on anniversary of Bloody Sunday

Sydney’s Irish AFL defender Colin O’Riordan has helped deliver his Gaelic football side Tipperary its first provincial senior football championship title in 85 years.

The result was particularly poignant as it came the day after the 100th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday massacre, when 14 people were killed at a Gaelic football game between Dublin and Tipperary — including Tipperary defender Michael Hogan.

The Swans gave the 25-year-old O’Riordan special dispensation to play in the Munster Senior Football Championship final and he played a crucial role as underdogs Tipperary beat Cork 0-17 to 0-14 behind closed doors at Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium.

“It’s an emotional day for me,” O’Riordan told The Sunday Game post match.

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“A few weeks ago I didn’t think I’d be here and just to be out there with the lads, giving it your all for the sake of Tipperary — I can’t put it into words.”

“I get emotional even thinking about it but to me, it’s one of the best days of my life — [I’m] just over the moon.”

O’Riordan started and played the full game for Tipperary — his first inter-county appearance since joining the Swans in 2015 — while Collingwood’s Mark Keane came off the bench for Cork in the 59th minute.

“To me, it means so much to be able to put on the Tipp jersey,” O’Riordan said.

“It’s something I will never take for granted, it’s something I’ll respect to the day I die, that I had the opportunity to wear the jersey.”

Tipperary wore a special commemorative jersey, replicating the one worn on Bloody Sunday.

Teammates surround an AFL player who punches the air having kicked a goal. Teammates surround an AFL player who punches the air having kicked a goal.
Colin O’Riordan has kicked one goal for the Swans in his 23 matches.(AAP: Craig Golding)

O’Riordan, who has played 23 AFL games since making his debut in 2018, said he was “extremely grateful” to the Swans for allowing him to play.

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“They were 100 per cent within their rights to say no to me and to refuse me permission to play but they had no problem,” he said.

“John Longmire and all these lads over there with the Sydney Swans are an incredible organisation.”

The Swans tweeted their support for O’Riordan, saying they were “so proud and happy”.

Tipperary have now qualified for the All-Ireland semi-finals and will play Connacht champions Mayo at Croke Park on December 6, with five-time reigning champions Dublin taking on Ulster’s Cavan the previous day.

First to fourth-year AFL players are due to return to training with their clubs on December 7, with all other pros due back on January 6.

AAP/ABC