You are viewing the content for Friday 24 October 2003

Odhran proud to answer the call to face Aussies

Odhran O'Dwyer

By Jim O’Sullivan
IF you’ve never seen him play, then you will certainly remember his name. Odhran O’Dwyer has been around the block with the Clare footballers a good few years – he was there when John O’Keefe managed them.

And, like Colin Corkery, he experienced Australian Rules football in the course of a scheduled six months tour for the Olympic Games which stretched into two years.

Now, he's back here again, sooner than he could have anticipated, a member of John O'Keefe's Irish squad for the International Rules Series and very proud of the honour.

And, just like Stephen Kelly from neighbouring Limerick and Tipperary star Declan Browne, he's very conscious of the fact that he is flying the flag for the so-called weaker counties.

An interest in athletics in his youth "they are the only All-Ireland medals I have," he says prompted his initial visit, for the Olympic Games three years ago. He ended up staying for almost two years and got to play in Eastern Bulldogs' first team in Sydney.

"It was like joining a rugby club, where you start off with the thirds and work your way up, it took a while. The tackle was the big thing, but I played rugby with Garryowen at home (junior seconds), so it came a bit easier to me."

To make it back as a member of the Irish panel for the two-test series against Australia required a major financial sacrifice, one he insists, he was perfectly prepared to make.

A member of the Kilmurry-Ibrickane club, he runs a sports injury clinic in Ennis, which has meant closing shop for three weeks.

"But, it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance. You have to make the most of it."

Without being boastful, he says he would have been disappointed if he hadn't got the call from O'Keefe that he was in the squad to travel.

Back in 1998 he had been part of an extended training panel, but failed to make the cut ultimately. What gave him hope was his form for Clare in the championship game against Offaly, when he scored a goal and five points.

He's also honest enough to realise that there were "probably a lot of people wondering who the hell is Odhran O'Dwyer?", when his name was included in the travelling party of 27.

The Australians don't scare him in the least, saying that they're "no supermen."

"The big thing in their game is the tackle. We will have to play the ball at pace and try and take the game to them from the beginning. It will be about moving it as quick as we can."