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Mark O’Connor realises unlikely AFL dream

When the siren confirmed Mark O’Connor’s AFL premiership dream, the first person he looked for was Geelong teammate Max Holmes.

O’Connor found out on Friday evening he would replace Holmes in Geelong’s grand final squad, after the Cats opted not to risk the 20-year-old who was carrying a hamstring injury.

“As soon as the final siren went, thoughts went straight to Maxy,” O’Connor told AAP.

“I was actually on the bench at the final siren and Maxy came down and I just gave him a hug.

“You don’t wish that on anyone but it’s been a squad thing and we have guys that are ready to go and fortunately I got the nod.”

On the flip side, O’Connor was delighted for Brandan Parfitt, the man who stepped in as substitute when he was elevated to the 22.

Parfitt entered the game for Cam Guthrie in the final quarter and kicked a goal.

“That was a fairytale finish to the game,” O’Connor said.

“I’m just delighted he got into the squad.

“He’s a very special player and I’m very close to him as well personally, so it’s a special day.”

O’Connor and teammate Zach Tuohy have now joined former Swan Tadhg Kennelly as Irish AFL premiership players.

“It’s amazing. Obviously I’m delighted for Zach too, on his 250th (game),” he said.

“What he’s done in the game has been super special, not only for Irish players but for Australian players too. It’s a special achievement and I’m super proud of him.”

O’Connor, 25, had plenty of supporters back in Ireland but delighted in having his brother on hand.

“He flew in last night and he actually got the last seat on the plane on the way over here,” O’Connor said.

“It was pretty lucky how it worked out and it’s special to share this moment with him.”

O’Connor will head back to Ireland for holidays next week and said it was the perfect way to cap off his season.

“As soon as the siren went, there was just that joy,” he said.

“That’s so rare in life, that type of high. It was a pretty special experience

“I probably struggled a bit throughout the year so the footy side of things was probably in the back of my mind for a while, unfortunately.

“But just having come all that now and winning the way we did, it’s just all been worth it.

“I just can’t wait to go home and celebrate with my family.”

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