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O'Keefe on a new path to victory

Norm Smith medallist Ryan O'Keefe.

Norm Smith medallist Ryan O'Keefe.

At one stage, Ryan O'Keefe had considered leaving the Swans. He's glad he didn't.

HAD Ryan O'Keefe won the Norm Smith Medal three or more years ago, it might have been for kicking six goals from the half-forward line, having saved them all for the most important times possible. He probably, then, wouldn't have turned up to a post-match press conference with a slightly fat lip and 15 tackles beside his name on the stats sheet.

But yesterday, after Hawthorn made the faster start, somebody had to put their foot down. The old O'Keefe might have kicked the goals that made sure his side's resurgence counted, yesterday, he set up the resurgence.

Hawthorn V Sydney Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell chases Sydney's Ryan O'Keefe.

Hawthorn V Sydney Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell chases Sydney's Ryan O'Keefe. Photo: Justin McManus

The transformation from goal-kicking forward is one the 31-year-old has enjoyed and it began long before yesterday's double appearance on the presentation stage, which meant he had two medals hanging around his neck last night instead of one.

''I enjoy it. I just enjoy getting in amongst it, where the action is, being physical,'' he said. ''I'm just enjoying my footy at the moment. The coaches have given me the confidence just to back myself in, and to get in there and get physical.''

O'Keefe was sure he wouldn't have won his second medal without his teammates, whether they were getting him the ball or making him look good. He shook his head then smiled remembering a wayward pass to Lewis Jetta during the tense final quarter, the Hawks able to win the ball back but only briefly, with Marty Mattner holding them up before too much damage was done. ''I thought he was quicker than that,'' said O'Keefe of Jetta. ''It probably wasn't my best option. Once I did it, I gave myself an uppercut, really. Thank god Marty Mattner was out there on the other side. Marty saved my skin.''

Holding on: O'Keefe lays one of his 15 tackles on Brad Sewell.

Holding on: O'Keefe lays one of his 15 tackles on Brad Sewell. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

That's the way the Swans do it and if O'Keefe knew one thing about his side yesterday it was that it would hang in and persist until the final siren. ''It's a credit to the group because we always knew we just had to persevere. We got the momentum, they got the momentum, and you knew that was how the game was going to pan out all day. These games are always going to go down to the wire, to the last few minutes, and that's what we did today.''

His part in that mattered, because he is a player who does exactly what he wants done. The simple numbers said plenty about O'Keefe's game: 28 disposals, almost half of them contested, seven clearances, four inside 50s and, of course, those 15 tackles. He was relentless, robust, all the things he needed to be. He laid five more tackles than the next best and had more tackles than 25 players had possessions.

O'Keefe was a young player when the Swans became the Bloods, deciding to demand more of each other, not wait to hear it from their coaches.

''I suppose the guys that have been around for a while, we built this from the ground up and we just try and set a good example,'' he said. ''It's not all talk and ra-ra, it's all about actions and we tell guys, if you want to be a part of if, you jump on board and help drive it. To the boys' credit, it's not just about the 22 who played today. Right through our whole list, everyone bought in and really made it what it is.''

It is an environment that O'Keefe considered leaving four years ago. Ironically it was Hawthorn, fresh off its 2008 premiership, that spent trade week trying to add him to its forward line, only for the deal to fall through, the Hawks reluctant to part with their first draft pick, the Swans demanding it, the Hawks ultimately unconvinced of O'Keefe's desperation to leave and O'Keefe eventually signing a new three-year deal at Sydney. The next year he made his first move into the midfield and won the club's best and fairest. Last night, it all felt long ago.

''That happened, what happened, and that's done and dusted. I've forgotten about that,'' he said. ''Once it was all done I made a commitment to everyone here and I'm just so happy to be a part of this club.

''It's a sensational club right from the top to the bottom, all the support staff and everyone like that. This week's been a huge week, not just for the players but for everyone involved in the club.''

After Nick Malceski snapped the goal that made sure of Sydney's win, with just 34 seconds to go, O'Keefe thought two things: ''How long left, and blow the siren please.''

Then he was briefly a bit too concerned for his team.

''Some of the efforts from the boys were just enormous in that last bit of the game,'' he said.

''When 'Mal' kicked that last goal it was just, 'get the world behind the ball, bottle it up and make sure they couldn't score'. There were a couple of stoppages there and I think I said, 'we can't have a point, just take another stoppage' and it ended up being a goal, which wasn't too bad.

''When it did go through I think I just bolted back behind the ball and so did everyone. I thought: 'hang on, I'd better get back into the middle, no one's in there'.''

Despite all that, it seems O'Keefe already knew how it would end. ''He came up to me before the game today and grabbed me, patted me on the head and said 'don't worry, we'll be right','' said his coach, John Longmire. ''And he was right, which I'm pretty happy about. He led from the front. I thought all our leaders did that, but Ryan went into the middle and he was sensational. To have 15 tackles at this time of year, in a grand final, it's what [the team] needs. He was enormous.''



Norm Smith Medal voting


12 Ryan O'Keefe (Sydney)
7 Brad Sewell (Hawthorn)
5 Daniel Hannebery (Sydney)
5 Lance Franklin (Hawthorn)
1 Jarrad McVeigh (Sydney)

Drew Morphett (ABC)
3 O'Keefe
2 Frankin
1 Hannebery

Brett Ratten (chairman)
3 Sewell
2 O'Keefe
1 Franklin

Neil Cordy (Daily Telegraph)
3 O'Keefe
2 Franklin
1 McVeigh

Tim McGrath (K Rock)
3 Hannebery
2 Sewell
1 O'Keefe

Mick Malthouse (Channel 7)
3 O'Keefe
2 Sewell
1 Hannebery

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AFL 2016

Round 1
Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
BRI vs NTH 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:25ES
FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs COL 13:45MCG
RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
HAW vs STK 14:10AS
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs GWS 13:10ES
FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL vs STK 13:45ES
ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 13:10G
CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 7
Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs NTH 15:20ES
PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 8
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
BRI vs COL 19:25G
RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 9
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs ESS 16:40ES
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Round 10
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs HAW 13:45G
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
STK vs FRE 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 11
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 12
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
BRI vs FRE 16:35G
GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 13:10ES
RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:40G
FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
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Round 14
Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
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Round 15
Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
GCF vs STK 13:40MS
SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
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Round 16
Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
ESS vs STK 16:40ES
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Round 17
Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 15:20ES
BRI vs GWS 16:40G
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Round 18
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs STK 19:25ES
GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 19
Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
BRI vs PTA 19:25G
NTH vs STK 19:25ES
Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 19:50ES
Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CAR 13:45G
HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs SYD 19:25ES
PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
COL vs GCF 19:25ES
PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
BRI vs GEE 15:20G
ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
STK vs BRI 12:00ES
ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
View all
 

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