Zach Tuohy will become the second Irishman to reach 200 AFL games after Jim Stynes in the game against Essendon on Sunday afternoon. Former Gaelic footballer and current Geelong defender Mark O’Connor has penned an insightful piece for aflplayers.com.au on what makes his fellow Irishman special.
I remember Zach from when I was younger.
When Zach was just an under 18, he was a very good Gaelic football player, and he made a name for himself by scoring goal of the year.
I think he kicked two goals that were nominated in Gaelic football, and that’s a pretty special effort for an under 18.
I remember those goals he kicked, and everyone knew about him then.
Once he made the move and started making a name for himself over here, he became even more well known.
In 2016, I moved from Ireland where I played for county Kerry to sign at Geelong.
Soon after, I heard Zach was in talks with Geelong about moving from Carlton.
I had my fingers crossed that he would sign, and thankfully, he did.
We met up for coffees and things, and he was very supportive.
It was a new club for him too, so he also had to find his own path and forge new friendships.
It helped that we were both new to Geelong.
I was keen on his story and how he improved so quickly.
He was telling me about all the extra work and different drills that he did at Carlton.
He would tell me, “Do the right things, try not to let anyone down in the club”.
It was good advice coming from him, knowing we transferred from the same code and we would’ve struggled with the same things.
Stefan Okunbor also joined the Cats in 2018, so we’ve got a strong Irish connection.
Zach not only creates camaraderie with the Irish boys, but he helps everyone, it’s just in his personality.
He makes people feel comfortable with his humour
He’s a bit of a joker, but he always jokes at the right time. He’s a timely man as well.
He knows when to be serious and when to have a laugh, like you saw last weekend when he had sore ribs.
He knew that was a time to dig in, and he’s just able to do it when the time comes, and off the field, he’s fun.
In my first year, we went to Queenstown in New Zealand together with a group of boys.
He knew where the good spots were and what was fun to do.
Himself and Lachie Henderson really led the way for the boys because they’d been to Queenstown before, they were like the godfathers of that trip and took care of everything.
Zach also likes his fashion.
Last year, we went and designed caps at New Era together, and his were a bit nicer than mine!
Becoming the second Irish player to cross from Gaelic football and play 200 AFL games, it’s huge that he’s in the same company as Jim Stynes, considering the impact he’s had on the sport.
With injuries and things, he just finds a way.
He once played 138 AFL games consecutively, which says a lot about consistency and keeping his body right. And he’s just got the talent.
His resilience, consistency, and talent are what sets him apart.
And his story would inspire a lot of Irish boys with the success that he’s had.
He sends the message back home that you can come out to Australia and absolutely make an impact.
It would give confidence to aspiring players back home that want to come out here, because he’s obviously a huge success story.
Thanks for all your help, Zach, and good luck in game 200.