Colin O’Riordan will return to the green pasture of Ireland a happy man over the Christmas getaway after carving out a breakthrough 2019 campaign.
While the county Tipperay native didn’t feature over the final four rounds of the season due to a groin injury, he ran out for a career-high 12 AFL games.
The 23-year-old defender also signed a fresh two-year deal, linking himself to Sydney until at least the end of season 2021, and was at the centre of a feel-good SCG moment when he slotted his first AFL goal.
O’Riordan is rapt with the season he produced.
“I’m pretty happy with my year,” O’Riordan told SwansTV.
“To play 12 games was a massive learning experience and a big learning curve. Individually it wasn’t a bad year for me. I am pretty content with it without being ecstatic.”
The injury-hampered seasons of experienced defenders Jarrad McVeigh, Heath Grundy and Nick Smith presented Sydney’s coaching panel a chance to mould its potential long-term back six.
O’Riordan’s attacking drive off half-back and ability to clamp both tall and small forwards have made him a central element of the new wave, with fellow young Swans Aliir Aliir, Lewis Melican, Jordan Dawson and Tom McCartin also among the set-up.
Sydney defence coach Tadhg Kennelly, a man largely responsible for tying O’Riordan with the Swans ahead of his 2015 drafting, praised the emerging Swan’s resolve.
“It was a breakout year for Colin and it all started with a really good pre-season,” Kennelly told SwansTV.
“He came into the team, was dropped after Round 2, went back to the NEAFL and then played a block of 11 games. He really found his feet and had a lot of self-belief in the way he was playing his football.
“For someone who didn’t grow up with the game he also showed some really good leadership on the ground. Some big steps for Colin in his development this year.”