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24 May 2022

BIG INTERVIEW: 'I've always said that I'd love to throw on the Tipperary jersey again...'

This week's Travel Tales in The Nationalist

Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

Tipperary is blessed with a vibrant culture of sporting volunteerism. These volunteers are the unsung heroes who are crucial to the physical and mental health wellbeing of our children.

“The longing for home is always there. Representing Tipp is something that I always appreciated and never take for granted. But who knows what’ll happen in the future? But I’ve always said that I’d love to throw on the Tipp Jersey again at some stage. It’s something I’d love to do. I’ve been passionate about Tipp ever since I was a kid…we’ll have to wait and see but I won’t rule it out.”

Sydney-based Tipperary football legend Colin O’Riordan was answering my question over Zoom to whether he will play for Tipperary again in the future.

I had pointed out that Colin has played in a Minor and Under 21 All-Ireland football final so he just has the Senior final left. I had told him it was the one question football people wanted me to ask him.

The Sydney Swans AFL star Colin O’Riordan is my first guest this week on my brand new ten-episode podcast series called GAA Minor Moments brought to you by Electric Ireland which will be full of fascinating stories from some of Ireland’s sporting greats like Eamon O’Shea, Niall Quinn, Sean Cavanagh, Jamesie O’Connor, Mick Galwey and Brian Whelahan to name just a few.

This unique podcast series will focus on the early playing career of my guests who share heart-warming personal stories and reflect on how playing Minor for their county helped shape their subsequent lives both on and off the pitch.

Colin shares great stories from that famous 2011 All-Ireland Minor football final win against a star-studded Dublin team full of future multiple All-Ireland Senior medal winners.

Colin goes into his sporting journey from his club JK Brackens in Templemore to the Under 21 final loss against Tyrone and that famous Munster Football Championship final win against Cork in 2020 on the 100th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Colin also talks about his life in Sydney and playing AFL professional sport for the Sydney Swans.

The podcast is introduced by the current Tipperary Senior manager, David Power, who managed Colin to both the Minor All-Ireland and the Munster Championship final wins.

The one question I ask every guest is to tell us “their Minor moments that will last a lifetime”. David picked the half-time in the Munster Minor final against Cork when Colin, who was only 15-years-old, stood up and spoke with passion saying he had never lost to Cork at any age and didn’t intend to that day either.

David told me he didn’t need to say anything himself after that speech and they went out and won.

Colin paid a lovely tribute to Charlie McCeever from Clonmel Commercials when asked for his Minor moment.

He described a cold winter’s night challenge match against Limerick and Charlie asking him to be the Minor captain in 2013 in the car park afterwards.

Colin said it was his first time captaining Tipperary and the proudest moment of his career. My inspiration to do the GAA Minor Moments podcast is my son Paddy who is playing with the Tipperary Minor footballers this year and last year.

I have had the privilege of being able to follow his journey from starting at five-years-old in Moyle Rovers with a dream to play for his county.

Over the last two years I have seen and marvelled at the dedication, determination, persistence, resilience, self-belief and passion that is necessary for players and coaches to represent their county.

The GAA, especially local clubs, do not get enough credit for the essential service they provide for our communities and in particular our children.

This was very evident during lockdown when sport was cancelled. Tipperary is blessed with a vibrant culture of sporting volunteerism.

These volunteers are the unsung heroes who are crucial to the physical and mental health wellbeing of our children.

I was reminded of this last week when the Tipperary Minor footballers beat Limerick in the Pool Final in Mallow.

At the final whistle I could see the emotion on the faces of parents who have driven their sons many miles to training and matches throughout Tipperary.

And the pride of club stalwarts like Marie O’Connor from Moyle Rovers who has been the medic to stricken young players at matches for many years.

This Tipperary Minor football team have created a real buzz in the county by winning four championship matches over four weeks by playing with great flair.

A win ratio Tipperary have not done since Colin O’Riordan’s Minor win in 2011.
The team is managed by John McNamara from Clonmel Commercials who will be known to football people throughout Tipperary.

John has fashioned a team who show real grit in defence but who also have the freedom and courage to attack with speed at every opportunity.

The Minor footballers win last week means they now have a home semi-final on May 19 in Semple stadium against either Cork or Kerry.

This team has a swashbuckling style that is a joy to watch, and I would encourage all Tipperary GAA fans to go to this match to cheer them on.

I would know most of the Tipperary Minor hurling and football players as I have been watching my son play against them at club and divisional matches up through underage.

Both the footballers and hurlers have been earmarked as a talented bunch since under 14 when winning the Tony Forrestal Cup.

The Minor hurlers play Clare in the Munster Final on May 11 in Limerick and I’d encourage you to support them too.

One player on that hurling team deserves special mention as I have seen him win games on his own since primary school.

The full forward Tom Delaney from Cahir scored 1-12 from play in the semi-final against Waterford last week in a performance called one for the ages.

He is a credit to his family and club and worth the price of admission alone.

Finally, I am looking forward to shouting at the Tipperary Senior football team this Saturday against Limerick.

This is a team that has given us many great football days and are deserving of a huge crowd on Saturday night in Semple Stadium.

The GAA Minor Moments Podcast, brought to you by Electric Ireland, is available every Tuesday on all podcast platforms and here: electricireland.ie/gaa-minor-championships

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