AFL Irish round-up: Zach Tuohy reflects on equalling Jim Stynes's record with Geelong Cats as McKenna stars for Brisbane again

'I am not sure how to feel because Jim is everyone’s hero, so it’s a strange one.' Zach Tuohy has mixed feelings about milestone appearance with Geelong  			   Picture: Geelong Cats Media
'I am not sure how to feel because Jim is everyone’s hero, so it’s a strange one.' Zach Tuohy has mixed feelings about milestone appearance with Geelong Picture: Geelong Cats Media

Conor McKenna was named as one of Brisbane’s best players in their stunning 134-54 hammering of Richmond at the Lions Gabba fortress in round 16 of the AFL on Thursday.

The Tyrone man also booted an exquisite second quarter goal from 50m out, before turning provider just minutes later for teammate Charlie Cameron to give the host’s a deserved 48-point half-time lead.

Third place Brisbane have won a remarkable 44 home matches in their past 48 games and are in pole position to finish in the top four on the ladder. An even bigger prize of finishing in the top two is not beyond them but they are two wins behind ladder leaders Collingwood and second place Port Adelaide. Brisbane could leap frog either of those sides if they can replicate their home form with wins on the road, particularly at the MCG.

A top-two finish would give Brisbane the certainty of hosting a qualifying final, and if they win that, they would also host a preliminary final. The 2023 Grand Final is on Saturday, September 30.

McKenna collected 22 disposals (20 kicks & two handballs) and six marks off the half-back flank.

On Friday, Portlaoise veteran Zach Tuohy (33) made AFL history when he equalled the late Jimmy Stynes’s 264-game record as the highest number of senior AFL appearances by an Irish player. Tuohy capped his milestone game by being named as one of Geelong’s best players.

Geelong played out a pulsating 54-54 draw away to the Sydney Swans at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Swans should have been out of sight but inaccurate kicking led the host’s squandering numerous clear-cut opportunities to win the game.

  • Read more: Zach Tuohy backs Mayo man Mullin ahead of his AFL debut
  • Read more: Zach Tuohy to get a shot at Stynes's record as Conor McKenna's Lions maintain winning form

Playing mainly on the wing, Tuohy finished the game with 28 disposals (19 kicks 9 handballs) and five marks. He also booted a behind. Clearly emotional, Tuohy reflected on his stellar AFL career post-match.

“The goal for me coming out was to play one game,” Tuohy explained.

“When I reflect on this milestone, I can’t help but think that if I had been anywhere else it (equalling Stynes’s record) would not have happened.

“I’m grateful being a Geelong person and a Geelong player. I am not sure how to feel because Jim is everyone’s hero, so it’s a strange one.”

The former Carlton player also expressed his pride at Geelong’s continued recruitment of Irish players for the AFL and females for AFLW.

“The older I get the more proud I am of seeing Irish players come out. Winning the premiership last year with ‘Shark’ (Kerry teammate Mark O’Connor who was injured for the Swans game) was incredible and now we’ve got Oisin (Mayo's Oisin Mullin) we are the first AFL club to have played three Irish players in a game. We are all proud Irish people so it’s nice to have a few of us here.”

Despite losing ground on the ladder leaders, Geelong in ninth are only two points (4-points for a win) outside of the top eight finals spots heading into the final seven rounds of the home and away season.

On Sunday, Greater Western Sydney Giants kept their finals hopes alive when they produced one of the results of the season to defeat fourth place Melbourne 45-47 at TIO Traeger Park in Alice Springs. The Giants are now up to 10th as one of a logjam of teams vying for a finals spot.

Derry’s Callum Brown finished the game with 12 disposals (9 kicks & 3 handballs) and five marks. He also booted a goal and a behind having been switched to the forward line from defence in recent weeks.

On Sunday, Meath’s Conor Nash collected 18 disposals (9 kicks & 9 handballs) for third-bottom Hawthorn who were demolished 52-112 by Carlton at the MCG.

On Saturday Tyrone defender Aidan Corr collected 15 disposals (12 kicks & 3 handballs) and 4 marks for second-bottom North Melbourne Kangaroos who were outclassed 138-72 by the Adelaide Crows at the Adelaide Oval.