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O'Riordan chasing bright AFL lights

Defence talks: Colin O'Riordan Swans TV speaks to Colin O'Riordan ahead of the 2019 season.
There’s very little that compares to running out for an AFL match. It’s a special feeling when you run out into a stadium filled with 30,000 people and you realise you’re with boys you can trust.
Colin O'Riordan

Irishman Colin O’Riordan last year lived out a moment not in his “wildest dreams” as he tore through the race for his long-awaited AFL debut – and the Sydney Swans defender is craving more of the buzz ahead of season 2019.

The footy world stepped back and applauded as O’Riordan, who had touched a Sherrin just a handful of times before arriving in Australia for the 2015 AFL Draft Combine, earned a call-up for Sydney’s clash with North Melbourne in Round 17 after two full seasons in the NEAFL. 

The 23-year-old from Irish county Tipperary rounded out the season with three senior games beside his name, and he’s again locked his eyes on the AFL lights in the thick of the 2019 pre-season.

“There’s very little that compares to running out for an AFL match. It’s a special feeling when you run out into a stadium filled with 30,000 people and you realise you’re with boys you can trust – and I think that’s the biggest thing about it,” O’Riordan told SwansTV.

“You’re running out with 21 other boys you really have a bond and a connection with. You know they’re going to go through a wall for you, so you know you have to go through a wall for them. 

“Making your AFL debut gives you confidence that you can make it at the top level and if you put in the work you’ll eventually get the rewards. 

“That’s all I’ve been focussing on in the pre-season – just putting in hard work, putting my name forward and having a crack. Hopefully senior selection comes in Round 1 after having a good, solid pre-season.”

The Swans edged the Kangaroos in a six-point thriller in Melbourne to make for an AFL debut to remember for O’Riordan, and the stats sheet reflected a youngster not afraid to leave his man to take a mark. 

O’Riordan finished the match with 19 disposals and eight marks alongside his name, and he says he’s working hard with recently appointed defence coach and fellow Irishman Tadhg Kennelly to grow that aspect of his game.

“Tadhg’s trying to get me into positions where you can actually come off your man and make a real impact on the contest,” O’Riordan said.

“If I can get my footwork right it’s a part of my game that gives me strength. 

“It’s something I can still build on, but I’m really happy with where it is now – and I just want to keep progressing.”

O’Riordan isn’t the only Swan with a noted knack of cutting off the opposition’s go-forward.

Reigning Club Champion Jake Lloyd, the mercurial Aliir Aliir and ageless Swan Jarrad McVeigh provide a mountain of drive off Sydney’s half-back line themselves.

Lloyd, who pipped Luke Parker and Lance Franklin for his first Bob Skilton Medal win last October, returned to full training on Monday after a pre-season block hampered by surgery.

O’Riordan gave a glowing review of Lloyd’s 2018 campaign, but he says the 115-game Swan is eyeing an even better 2019 season.

“Lloyd’s last year spoke for itself,” O’Riordan said. 

“To get the best and fairest is a massive honour but I’m sure he’ll tell you himself he’s not content with that – he wants to build on that in 2019.

“It was great to see him out on the track again this morning, and hopefully he can really rip in to 2019.”