"I've always said I'll go back and play. I'll 100% play with Portlaoise again, and I really want to play for Laois"
200 not out.
Only 5% of AFL players make it, only one Irish man had ever exceeded it. The 200 appearance barrier is an elusive and iconic mark for AFL players and in 10 glorious and injury-blessed years, Portlaoise's Zach Tuohy has cantered his way into history.
30 is a relatively old age in AFL language but Tuohy, as many of us know, is an outlier, an exceptional athlete, who constantly defies expectations and beliefs and few would put it past him continuing and succeeding in the AFL for many years to come.
He certainly won't be ruling it out himself.
"It's kind of crept up. It doesn't seem that long ago since I played my first game so I'm quite pleased with it," he said of reaching the 200 milestone in an interview with fellow Portlaoise man Colm Parkinson on The GAA Hour.
Zach Tuohy this morning made his 200th AFL appearance.
Incredible from the @PortlaoiseGAA man 👏 pic.twitter.com/ALqxikKBHL
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) September 12, 2020
"I remember playing with Setanta (O'h'Ailpín) early in my career and he used say that 100 games was his aim, and of course, I thought that would be remarkable but I guess I've been lucky with injury and that's half the battle really. I've been kind of plodding away then, ticking them off since!"
"I feel like I've got quite a few years left in me. It would take three more full seasons to catch Jim (Stynes). Physically, I think I could play for four or five more years but those are famous last words! I'm hoping to get a couple of years at Geelong. Whatever contract I get next, I'll set for it being my last, hopefully it's not, but if it is I'll set myself for Portlaoise the following year!
"I've always said I'll go back and play. I'll 100% play with Portlaoise again as long as my body lets me and I still really want to play for Laois, I've never played a championship game for Laois so that would be nice, but again, that's all body permitting because I'm not getting any younger..."
The Zach Tuohy 200th Game Tribute 🇮🇪 ☘️ Hear from Zach's friends and family, thanks to @MorrisFinance #TuohHundred pic.twitter.com/ccdGu0rnV3
— Geelong Cats (@GeelongCats) September 5, 2020
Tuohy's ability to avoid injuries has been a key to his success in the game, while his appetite has been whetted by a slight positional switch this year.
"I did carry a knee injury through most of last season and I still have to manage it. I got a full pre-season in, which can't be underestimated. I've had a slight switch in position, been pushed up the ground a bit. The team is going really well too which helps..."
Meanwhile, the Irish lads are sticking together Down Under with Tuohy regularly meeting up with some of the younger players to offer some words of wisdom.
"There's a group message with all of the Irish guys in it I think. I'd occasionally go for a coffee with some of those Irish lads. It feels like we're all in it together that way, so it's group...Ciaran Sheehan and Ciaran Byrne are still in it so McKenna still has a while left!"
You can listen to the Tuohy interview and much more from The GAA Hour here.