Ryan O’Keefe

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Ryan O’Keefe : biography

24 January 1981 –

O’Keefe won the Norm Smith Medal after his side the Sydney Swans beat Hawthorn by 10 points in the 2012 AFL Grand Final, the first Swans player to do so since the medal’s inception in 1979. O’Keefe finished 3rd in the 2012 Bob Skilton Medal after a superb season. He combined magnificently with the likes of Skilton Medal winner Josh Kennedy, Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack, Lewis Jetta, Daniel Hannebery and Craig Bird to become one of the best midfields in the competition.

Early career

Ryan O’Keefe was educated at St Kevin’s College in Melbourne, where he was the football team captain. He played for the Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup. In 1999, Ezra Bray lived with O’Keefe’s family whilst on an AFL scholarship to attend Essendon Keilor College. Both Bray and O’Keefe were drafted in the 1999 AFL Draft, however Bray never played an AFL game for Geelong, who selected him with the 17th selection. O’Keefe was drafted by Sydney with the 56th selection.

In 2002, O’Keefe’s younger brother Aaron died in a car accident. His family had lost another son at nine months of age to sudden infant death syndrome when Ryan was 5 years old. He also has a younger sister and brother. His father Brian played football for Fitzroy reserves and his grandfather Lionel Ryan played for Footscray in the 1950s.

O’Keefe struggled to maintain his place in the Sydney side in his first few years at the club, but his form improved when he concentrated more on running and less on weight training. He also shifted from defence to a midfield and attack role.

2005

O’Keefe played all 26 games in Sydney’s premiership year of 2005, having a particularly brilliant finals series, and played one of the best games of his career in the Preliminary Final against the Saints. In the same year, he represented Australia in the International Rules series.

Season statistics

Year Team Number Games Kicks Handballs Total Disposals Tackles Marks Goals Behinds Goal Accuracy % Brownlow Medal Votes
2000 Sydney 39 5 14 10 24 4 9 1 0 100 0
2001 Sydney 5 13 78 20 98 14 20 6 4 60 0
2002 Sydney 5 9 62 32 94 14 33 12 8 60 2
2003 Sydney 5 16 74 35 109 22 41 17 5 77 1
2004 Sydney 5 24 244 103 347 56 124 33 17 66 2
2005 Sydney 5 26 280 105 385 65 128 31 33 48 7
2006 Sydney 5 25 356 119 475 64 178 32 22 59 5
2007 Sydney 5 23 282 122 404 83 122 23 18 56 2
2008 Sydney 5 23 303 149 452 68 113 23 26 47 10
2009 Sydney 5 22 287 238 525 117 95 13 7 65 11
2010 Sydney 5 23 269 210 479 98 98 17 15 53 8
2011 Sydney 5 24 317 226 543 138 75 20 20 50 12
2012 Sydney 5
Totals 233 2567 1369 3936 745 1034 228 175 57.5% 49

Career highlights

  • TAC Cup Team of the Year 1999
  • International Rules Series 2005, 2006 (Jim Stynes Medal 2006)
  • Sydney Swans Premiership player 2005
  • All-Australian 2006
  • Sydney Swans Premiership player 2012
  • Norm Smith Medal 2012