EMOTIONAL Sydney defender Colin O'Riordan has thanked the Swans for allowing him to help his Irish home county of Tipperary claim its first Munster Gaelic football championship in 85 years. 

O'Riordan was part of the Tipperary side that defeated Cork by three points at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Counties Kerry and Cork have shared every Munster title since 1923, except for Tipperary's most recent win in 1935 and a lone win by Clare in 1992.

The victory was extra special for the Tipperary side, as it came on the weekend that Ireland commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday massacre at Croke Park. 

On November 21, 1920, British forces opened fire on a crowd gathering for a Gaelic football match between Dublin and Tipperary at the famous stadium. Fourteen people were killed, including three schoolboys and Tipperary footballer Michael Hogan.

A tearful O'Riordan told Irish broadcaster RTE Sport after the game that it was an unforgettable moment.

"I can't put it into words. It's the best feeling I've had in many years," he said.

It's something I'll respect until the day I die, that I had the opportunity to wear the jersey

- Colin O'Riordan

 "It just fills me with pride so much and I get emotional even thinking about it, but it's one of the best days of my life and I'm just over the moon."

While O'Riordan is on leave from the Swans during their off-season break, he still had to seek permission from the club to don the Tipperary colours in their biggest game of the season.

"It just means so much to be able to put on the Tipp jersey and it's something I'll never ever take for granted and it's something I'll respect until the day I die, that I had the opportunity to wear the jersey. 

"I just want to say I'm extremely thankful to Sydney for allowing me to play in this game. They were exactly 100 per cent in their rights to say no to me and to refuse me permission to play but they had no problem. It was (Sydney coach) John Longmire and all these lads over there.

"The Sydney Swans are an incredible organisation and without them giving me the permission, I wouldn't have been able to play, so I just want to give them a massive thanks."

O'Riordan isn't the only Irish AFL player to return to his native code during the off-season.

Collingwood's Mark Keane, who turned out for the Cork side that O'Riordan's Tipperary defeated, played a starring role in getting his side to the final. 

Keane scored a stunning solo goal in the last second of last week's semi-final against Kerry to end the 81-time champions' bid for another title and send Cork into the decider. 

Now-retired Essendon defender Conor McKenna sparked controversy in November last year when he played in a GAA relegation playoff match for his local club, without the Bombers' knowledge.