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Thursday, June 27 2019 @ 07:38 am ACST

O’Reilly to make Debut for Tigers

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Irish import Jamie O’Reilly will make his senior debut this weekend for the Richmond Tigers in their clash with Carlton. It comes as no surprise as O’Reilly was promoted to the senior panel a few weeks ago and has put in impressive performances all year for Coburg in the VFL.

With the Tigers well short of making the finals, coach Damien Hardwick has made good on his promise to blood as many youngsters as possible. The former Co. Down player will be the 10th Richmond player to make his AFL debut this year when he lines out at half back. O’Reilly has shown remarkable ability to learn a new sport in his first year at Tigerland having joined on a two year rookie deal in December.

Coincidentally round 20 last year was the first live match of AFL that O’Reilly ever saw. At the time he was on trial with the Tigers and round 20 will see him step out on the MCG for his debut. Speaking to the Herald Sun he could scarcely believe how far he has come in such a short time. “I was here in Round 20 last year watching Richmond play Collingwood and was sitting with all the other development players," he said. "A year on I am in the team playing Carlton at the MCG. It's been an incredible journey.”

Currently lying 14th on the ladder the Tigers will hope that they can improve on a heavy defeat when they last met Carlton in the first match of the year. "I just have a picture in my head of what Round 1 was like," O’ Reilly said, "Maybe Round 1 is bigger than Round 20, but Carlton have a lot to play for, as do we. So there will be Juddy (Chris Judd) and Cuzzy (Ben Cousins) and me stuck in the middle of the ground not knowing where I am, but I am looking forward to it."

O'Reilly was spotted playing for County Down by Richmond recruiter Francis Jackson last year in an under-21 representative game. In the All-Ireland semi-final the following week he starred and subsequently was offered a trial. O’Reilly continues, "I was driving to uni one morning and I had a phone call with these weird digits, which was an international call. I assumed it was a wind-up when they wanted me to come out because my cousin was in Melbourne at the time,” he said. “I was excited, but was still thinking I shouldn't get too carried away. So when Francis sent me an email with the club crest, I thought, 'This is finally real'.”

O’Reilly has played consistently well in his 14 performances for Coburg in the VFL but he will hope that a good performance against Carlton will be the launch pad for him to establish himself in a young Tigers side that undoubtedly has a bright future.

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