January 31, 2006
The Late John Ryan
It was around 1974 or '75 and the hurlers of Presentation College, Athenry, were coming to Portumna for a senior Colleges championship match. Their reputation had preceded them and the host school was given no chance.
That's how it turned out too. Featuring the flamboyant Ryan twins, Athenry underlined their dominance of the Connacht colleges scene around the time with a big win - it took a replay and St. Flannan's to deny them an All-Ireland crown in 1975.
Even the girls in Portumna College were impressed by the Ryan boys. The long hair, the Latin good looks and the classy stickwork. Those of us on the sideline that day wished we were like them.
John Ryan's untimely passing earlier this week seems completely at odds with those images of less than 20 years ago. An air of gloom hangs over the parishes of Raford, Kiltulla and Attymon after losing one of their favourite sons.
Ryan's hurling career mirrored that of his identical twin, Pascal. They were central to the Killimordaly juvenile hurling revolution of the early seventies, winning countless county medals with minor (1976) and U21 (1979) titles also falling the clubs way.
Ryan lined out at left corner forward when Galway overcame Tipperary in the All-Ireland U21 final of 1978 and two years later came on a substitute - and supplied a vital point against Limerick when the county delivered one of hurling's most emotional days ever in 1980.
Six summers later, Ryan was a key figure in Killimordaly's historic county senior championship title triumph over Turloughmore. He banged over three points that day in Duggan Park with brothers, Pascal and Eanna also making incalculable contributions.
Hurling people from over the county were in Kiltulla on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon to pay tribute to an outstanding player who remained hugely popular - a legacy to John's quiet, unassuming and gentle off-field demeanour.
It's hard to believe John Ryan is gone, he would have been taken aback by the outpouring of sympathy, but hurling folk never forget one of their own, especially one who left such a lasting impression. He was 45 last April.
To his wife Siobhan, daughters, Darina and Sinead, sisters Dolores and Anna and brothers Pascal, Eanna and Billy, and his extended family, we offer outr deepest sympathy.
Courtesy of the Connacht Tribune
11th October 2003
By John McIntyre
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