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.
“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.
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.
“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.
For most people, the last thing that should be on your mind on your wedding day would be playing football.
The National Premier Leagues season was delayed for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic
Lions ‘keeper Luke Borean came straight from his wedding ceremony to the NPL semi-final, where he played in goal
Lions progressed to the grand final, which will be played next Saturday at Perry Park
Yet that’s exactly what Lions FC goalkeeper Luke Borean had to deal with on Saturday, when he suited up in goal for Lions in the second-tier National Premier Leagues (NPL) Queensland semi-final, just hours after tying the knot.
The Boreans arrived at the ground in a Ferrari — with Luke still wearing his wedding suit and his new wife Ellen still in her wedding dress.
The scheduling nightmare arose as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, which meant the NPL season was pushed into what would normally be the off-season.
When Lions qualified for the finals, coaching staff initially thought they would be without their star keeper, who had kept nine clean sheets over the course of the 24 matches this season.
However, Borean — and his incredibly understanding new wife — decided they could do both.
Borean even pulled off a spectacular save to keep his side in the ascendancy during the 4-1 victory.
Lions coach Darren Sime said Borean told him the week before that he would be alright to play.
“I had to ask him a couple of times to confirm,” Sime said.
“He turned up, fairly nonchalantly, at training on the Tuesday and I said I’d need him to help prepare [reserve keeper] Ryan Murphy for the match.
“Obviously the club would never, ever stand in the way of a player’s wedding, you have to celebrate those moments.
“But they chose to celebrate that moment with us, which we’re really thankful for.”
Sime said the rest of the team were “stunned” that he still turned up to play, but were genuinely moved that he had done so.
“There were definitely some open mouths — they were genuinely shocked,” Sime said.
“We had a chat in the dressing room before the game about it, and there was some genuine love there for what Luke and Ellen had done.
Although it was certainly an unconventional way to celebrate your wedding, the 4-1 victory for Lions ensured that the night ended on a high note — and a trip to the grand final next week, where they’ll take on either Olympic or last year’s champions, Gold Coast Knights.
To those saying that the new Ms Borean is a keeper, well, they’d be right.
She also plays in goal, lining up for Souths United in the NPL Queensland Women’s competition.
So if all is tracking nicely, should it keep keeping on, as is?
Or should the WBBL be following the men’s lead and looking to update its rule book?
Stars coach in favour of innovation
Trent Woodhill already has a reputation for being an innovator in the game.
He has recently helped the England Cricket Board develop The Hundred competition and this year was appointed as the BBL’s first global player acquisition manager.
As the new Melbourne Stars WBBL head coach, he has had a very successful start to his women’s coaching career.
The team has already locked in top position on the ladder and will make the finals for the first time in six years.
But Woodhill believes the WBBL — albeit hitting great strides and being lauded for its high-quality cricket — needs to adapt with the growing ability of its players.
“In the men’s game, I can be bullish and push innovation and rule changes, but in the women’s game … sometimes that is met by off-field people who say hang on, you’ve got to respect the women’s game,” he told the ABC.
“That’s the next stage for women’s cricket. Not to hold onto itself too much or to be too caught up in what they think is right, so that they can continue to grow the game.”
Woodhill has been buoyed by his chats with both up-and-coming and experienced players, about the innovation they would like to see in coming years.
And he thinks the reluctance for change from some of the retired greats may actually hold the game back in the future.
“These women are paid well and are empowered, so we’ve got to tap into that and make sure that we’re listening to new players, as well as the Meg Lannings, Alyssa Healys and Ellyse Perrys … so that we develop and grow what they are doing.
Adapt from position of strength, says Beams
Former Australian leg-spinner Kristen Beams retired last year and is now a regular expert in the Grandstand cricket box.
She was a one-club player with the Melbourne Stars throughout the WBBL and captained them for some of that time.
Speaking on ABC podcast The Bat Flip, Beams agreed that innovation was important to ensure the league remained a premium product.
“When we look at the BBL, innovation has come as a necessity,” she said.
“People started to question whether it was relevant and if it was still a good product, and that has been the reason for the recent rule changes.
Beams also believes part of the responsibility for creativity comes back to each player and their individual training.
“It’s really important for players to innovate themselves and evolve their own game,” she said.
“Someone like Alex Blackwell kept herself relevant over such a long international career by reinventing her game.
“I remember she went and saw a baseball coach and was one of the very first people to look at power hitting.
Change doesn’t have to mean gimmicks
Getting the balance right — between retaining the fabric of the game and modernising it — is a tough one to strike, and Beams says people need to understand that change doesn’t always have to come in the form of a gimmick.
“I like when Trent speaks about innovation, that he also talked about having five out again, because sometimes it’s all about the batting … I wouldn’t be surprised if people suggested we should only have three fielders out so we score more runs.
“But maybe the innovation should actually go the other way, maybe our batters have got so good that we can go five out, or the boundaries become longer.”
Whether these advances will be made to the women’s game is purely speculative for now, as we near the end of the WBBL season with the finals in sight.
You can hear the action of the final weekend of the regular season on ABC Grandstand this weekend, on radio or the ABC Listen app — and you can follow the play online in our live ScoreCentres at www.abc.net.au/sport.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he is confident the 2021 Australian Open will proceed but it remains to be seen how many international stars will compete as confusion reigns over quarantine requirements.
Tennis Australia wants players to begin arriving in Melbourne in mid-December to enter a two-week isolation period
Mr Andrews said the Victorian Government was working “very, very closely” with Tennis Australia
The ATP issued a memo to its players saying there was uncertainty surrounding when players could arrive in Melbourne
Tennis Australia (TA) has been sweating for months on the Victorian and Australian governments allowing players to quarantine in a special training hub with their restricted entourages in Melbourne from mid-December.
That would allow the traditional lead-up events, including the multi-city ATP Cup, to be shifted from Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide to Melbourne while some state borders remain closed.
But on Monday, Mr Andrews said TA’s plan was “not a done deal” ahead of the Australian Open, which is scheduled to be staged from January 18 to 31 at Melbourne Park.
He backed up his comments on Wednesday, saying negotiations and planning were “incredibly complex”.
“It has to be done safely, it has to be done properly,” Mr Andrews told a media conference.
“We are working very, very closely with Tennis Australia. They are working [with] all of their partners and we’re confident that we’ll finish up with an Australian Open. It’s a very important event.
“It’s a massive task. There is more work that has to be done and we’re deeply engaged with Tennis Australia and others to get that outcome.”
Mr Andrews’s comments on Monday prompted the ATP — the governing body of men’s tennis — to issue a memo to its players overnight.
The memo, which was shared on Twitter by Slovakian professional Lukas Lacko, highlighted the ATP’s concern about when players would be able to arrive in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open.
“In discussions with Tennis Australia over the past 24 hours, we have been informed there are some new challenges around the previously planned arrival dates for players and team members,” the ATP said.
“We continue to work with Tennis Australia on confirming plans for January, and we will provide an update as soon as more information is available in the coming days.
“We understand there is uncertainty about the start of the 2021 season, and we are working as hard as possible to deliver the best possible calendar of events to players.”
Reports that Victoria will not only host the Australian Open tennis in January but also the various lead-up tournaments usually played elsewhere seems like a fitting reward for months of personal sacrifice.
With its summer garden party atmosphere, the Australian Open has become as much an officially branded celebration of Melbourne as a sporting event, with the feted international superstars the beloved special guests.
And yet for anyone who has cast a distant eye on the fractured and sometimes wilfully idiotic official and unofficial tennis seasons, there will be some obvious misgiving about how the circus’s elongated trip to town will play out.
In a purely social sense, the international tennis scene descending on post-lockdown Melbourne seems a bit like the cast of The Hangover taking a vacation in Gilead.
But beyond the startling demonstration of stupidity in the Balkans, it is the individual and often entitled nature of tennis — as well as the very different environment in which the US Open and French Open were staged — that will present an enormous challenge for Australian Open organisers.
Containing the feted multi-millionaires of the Indian cricket team in a COVID-proof bubble is one thing. Ensuring hundreds of professional tennis players and their coaches, fitness trainers, agents and others rather patronisingly referred to as “my team” adhere to strict local regulations will pose greater problems.
Even more so given the sense of entitlement among some preening stars on the ATP and WTA Tour has been entrenched at the Australian Open by the constant fluffing required to win and maintain their affection.
Where Wimbledon, Flushing Meadows and Roland Garros have remained secure in their Grand Slam status, some pampering on top of the spiralling prize money has been needed here to convince picky players that distant Melbourne Park was worthy of the same level of affection as the other Grand Slams.
This Australian Open’s insecurity was born of legitimate threats to the tournament’s Grand Slam status from other Asian cities. This in turn prompted the lavish State Government spending required to build what is now a tennis palace by the Yarra, but also an almost servile approach to the powerful players lobby.
The hard earned and expensive result of both this investment and servility is a tournament that captivates a city for two weeks, now comfortably holds its place among the world’s Big Four tournaments and which prompts players to tick the Melbourne box in the annual survey about the most enjoyable Grand Slam tournament.
Tennis stars unlikely to be pampered
But, for all that, should Melbourne still be subject to even eased lockdown conditions it will be intriguing to see how the precious butterflies of the tennis biosphere handle a less boisterous, less socially active and less ego-stroking Australian Open.
This is especially in light of the very different attitude toward COVID-19 taken by professional sport in parts of the world where infection rates are now at levels where the idea of containment, let alone daily zero infection and death rates, is mere pre-vaccine fantasy.
At the US Open and French Open a positive COVID-19 test was a warning sign but not a tournament killer in nations now suffering debilitating second waves after the delusion it was possible to “live with COVID”.
In Australia, a Melbourne Park cluster would not only stop the Australian Open in its tracks but bring down the wrath of a weary public that would not take kindly to a player who concealed symptoms or who failed to observe protocols.
So it will be intriguing to see how those tennis superstars, whose idea of brutal hardship is a ball kid taking too long to fetch their towel, handle the as-yet unplanned protocols required to cash their guaranteed five figures first-round loser cheques.
“We have a very different construct to the AFL and cricket because we are bringing in a lot of international people and their entourage and we’ve got to ensure they stay on a very rigid, tough lockdown,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley told the Herald-Sun.
Rigid and tough are words that apply to the training schedules of professional tennis players, but not necessarily the way they are accustomed to being treated — especially in Melbourne. Hopefully the lessons of a disrupted year will ensure compliance.
Because even the most popular tennis superstar will find weary Melbourne in no mood to indulge ‘COVIDiots’, regardless how well they can smack a forehand.
No more so than at this time of the year, the AFL’s trade period.
In trade period, which officially begins today, the drip feed becomes a tsunami of rumour, speculation, and conjecture — with the odd nugget of fact thrown in.
It makes sense, of course. One team has won the premiership, leaving behind the 17 others and their millions of fans with one thing to cling on to — hope.
That hope is fed by the huge amounts of football media across newspapers, websites, TV, talkback radio, and podcasts.
But the clear leader of the pack at this time of year is the ubiquitous AFL Trade Radio, a streaming service hosted on the league’s website that runs for almost three weeks starting from the Monday after the grand final.
AFL Trade Radio is a joint venture run by the league and Sports Entertainment Network (formerly Crocmedia), a sports broadcasting and production company that also owns SEN radio stations in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, racing stations and produces many podcasts.
The company’s chief executive and managing director, Craig Hutchison, began AFL Trade Radio more than a decade ago and his since successfully built interest in his product.
It has gained hundreds of thousands of listeners, while also ramping up interest in the trade period itself, such that it is now a major period on the AFL calendar.
AFL Trade Radio employs some excellent analysts, including experienced former AFL list managers and recruiters like Stephen Silvagni and Matt Rendell, as well as former players such as Matthew Lloyd, Adam Cooney, Brendon Goddard and the forthright Kane Cornes.
That group is backed by a team of experienced AFL journalists, including Damian Barrett, Sam Edmund, and Mitch Cleary.
If you love people talking about the AFL and you are looking for that dollop of hope about your footy club, it can be incredibly addictive.
The problem with Trade Radio is the same faced by any continuous news service: how do you fill all that time?
AFL Trade Radio had already been broadcasting for seven days before the trade period began today, with just a few free agency transfers to report on.
Amidst the analysis of team lists (and interminable commercials) are often revealing interviews with players on the move.
Then there is the strange dance with player managers and club list managers, who have specific agendas to talk up or down a player’s value, as they fly kites and put up their straw men.
‘Rumour and innuendo’
But where AFL Trade Radio becomes particularly problematic is the broadcasting of rumour and unattributed stories.
Take the case of star Collingwood midfielder Adam Treloar.
Last week, unattributed stories began to emerge in the football media suggesting Collingwood no longer wanted Treloar — one of the Magpies’ best players — because his wife, Kim Ravaillion, was going to move to Queensland to play for the Firebirds in Super Netball, taking with her the couple’s daughter.
Treloar and Collingwood have not spoken on the record about the speculation that the club was worried about him splitting his time between Melbourne and Brisbane or that they wanted to unload his sizeable salary.
On Monday, SEN radio journalist Sam Edmund reported on AFL Trade Radio as “absolute fact” that Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley had phoned Treloar and told him that “that the senior core of the group didn’t want him around anymore”.
Edmund said he had multiple sources, stating: “I am 100 per cent that this conversation took place.”
A lack of attribution generally reduces a story’s credibility, but doesn’t discount the possibility of its accuracy.
So, who to believe? The short answer is that we simply do not know.
For more than a week, Treloar’s life, relationships and future have been dissected by all and sundry through relentless talkback radio calls and broadcasters with endless hours to fill.
It is not unfair to say that Treloar, who has previously gone public about his anxiety disorder, has had his mental health and wellbeing placed at risk.
Separating truth from fiction
The problem for the football media during trade period is one of its own making.
When rumour, speculation and unattributed stories become a regular part of the diet, it is impossible to separate truth from fiction.
ABC Sport reporter and retired AFL footballer, Tony Armstrong, said trade period was hated by most players.
“Players hear stories about themselves that they have no idea about,” he said.
As Treloar’s Collingwood teammate Mason Cox tweeted this week: “This time of year is when media loses all respect from me. Rumours become facts and the constant need to be first outweighs validity entirely too often.”
Cornes tried to address that criticism on Tuesday by saying: “The reason rumour becomes fact is because of the lack of information [from clubs].”
But rumours are not fact.
Cornes’s point seems to be that if something is repeated often enough it becomes the accepted truth.
Within all this is a quandary for the AFL. It devised a system in which clubs, managers and players are all trying to get the best for themselves or their clients in a highly competitive market. That is why they all keep their cards so close to their chests.
And yet, the AFL is also exploiting that system through the marketing and publication of a product that feeds off trade intrigue and speculation — not to mention numerous stories on its website.
This week, the AFL’s platform simultaneously published a story that was “absolute fact”, as well as another shooting it down.
But the league is also ultimately the body responsible for player health and welfare.
Does its position as a publisher and broadcaster contradict its duty of care to players?
Former AFL player Justin Clarke has been named Queensland’s 2021 Rhodes Scholar.
Mr Clarke was forced to retire from AFL at just 22 because of a concussion incident
He will graduate from the University of Queensland in December with degrees in engineering and science
The scholarship will enable him to pursue a doctorate at Oxford, modelling hypersonic pulse tunnels
The Rhodes Scholarship gives young people from around the world a chance to study at Oxford University in England.
Mr Clarke will graduate from the University of Queensland in December from a duel program with a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mathematics, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) and a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics).
The 26-year-old played 56 games for the Brisbane Lions, but was forced to retire from the AFL in 2016 after an incident at training left him seriously concussed and affected his memory and mobility.
He was nudged in the back as he went for the ball, stumbling forward, with his forehead colliding with the knee of a player coming the other way.
He was knocked out for 15 seconds, but lost all memory of the incident and the succeeding three weeks.
As a result, the then 22-year-old was told not to play any contact sport for the rest of his life.
Since then, he’s thrown himself into his studies.
“Hypersonics is an area of active aerospace research which can radically change the way we travel around the world and improve access to space.”
Mr Clarke plans to do a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Science at Oxford’s Thermofluids Institute, modelling hypersonic pulse tunnels.
He has been a consistent high achiever at UQ, and is an ambassador for the university’s Queensland Brain Institute, a role promoting concussion awareness.
Mr Clarke also assistant coaches for the Western Magpies, where he focusses on developing the game knowledge of young key position players, and proper body positioning in aerial contests.