February 4, 2023

Tom Ryan was ‘no social animal’His own admission. He didn’t like the idea of forging intimate relationships with his gamers.

I don’t assume I ever phoned a participant once I was supervisor … or {that a} participant ever phoned me,’ he asserts, with Charles Hanley left to deal solely with communications. A Pioneer for his entire life, he never had any good reason to visit many pubs.

“You’re considered an oddball,” he suggests, the Irish tendency to think about non-drinkers as in some way suspicious one thing he’s aware of. The supervisor of a manufacturing unit on Thomas Avenue in Limerick metropolis, Ryan’s skilled life made calls for on his time that required a strict demarcation between it and his inter-county obligations.

Distant to the purpose of being detached about gamers’ private lives, he zealously harassed the significance of impartiality. There would have to be some type of significant bond between them for the time they could be known as his gamers.

“I brought them out into the middle of the pitch in the Gaelic Grounds,”He recalls a first encounter. “and I told them, ‘I can’t guarantee that we’ll win a match, but everyone sitting here tonight is of equal importance.’ I hated people having favourites.”

Mark Foley’s unexpected rise into the senior panel (and his potential to remain there) owed a lot to Ryan’s philosophy of equity. “After a week or two training,”Foley recalls “Tom pulled me aside. ‘You’re in here because you’re good enough. Don’t think you’re here to make up the numbers’.”

Though his championship debut wouldn’t arrive till 1995, the Adare native was made to really feel part of issues from the very starting. “Even though he was trying to win an All-Ireland with Limerick at that stage,”Foley explains. “Tom was determined to help every player in what they could do to improve.”

Ryan, despite his commitment to nurturing gamers, was most at home at a takeaway.

“I wasn’t there to be loved. I didn’t give a damn what they thought of me.”He was a master motivator, and he was just as satisfied if his players hurled correctly out of spite.

“Not one of my players ever invited me to their wedding,”He said, without a trace of regret or disappointment. “I’d be under no illusions what they thought of me.”

Married a number of years after Ryan had drafted him into the Limerick panel, Foley will not be satisfied it was an absence of fondness for his or her supervisor that resulted in gamers typically mirroring Ryan’s indifference again to him.

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“All I can say is that if I thought Tom Ryan would’ve enjoyed one second of being at my wedding,”He says it with humor “I would have asked him. Yes, he was the boss, but there was a huge respect there. He wanted to do everything possible to win for Limerick. You have to respect that.”

Limerick was the root of all things for Tom Ryan. Maybe he didn’t need the job when his title was put ahead, however Ryan scarcely appears a person who will do what he doesn’t wish to do. The ‘F**k You’He would have only carried him up to now if he had reserved it for the county board.

No matter reluctance did exist disappeared. It was his high precedence, as soon as he was inside the door, to win an All-Eire. Or perhaps second! “You represent Limerick when you put on that jersey,”He stated that the significance of this element was something he carried with him from his personal playing days. “I wanted us all to represent Limerick accordingly. I insisted on that first and foremost.”


“I was dealing with a group of Russians,” utters Ryan, the political engineering inside Limerick GAA an in a position match for the Soviet-era Kremlin. Throughout the 15 championship fixtures he oversaw as Limerick supervisor, Ryan’s staff received all however 5 of them.

In 1994-97, only Clare and Offaly received more video games. Offaly was All-Eire winner in three of the four years. Twice Munster champions. Only a small number of Limerick hurlers had enjoyed such success for a long time.

Although it was of less significance, the Nationwide league was still received in 1997. “Ultimately, the history books will record in black and white the names of those counties that won All-Irelands,” Ger Hegarty states matter-of-factly, relative success holding little sway when he displays on Limerick’s failure to attain their final purpose.

It’s an outlook Ryan understands, if not precisely one he shares. Ryan can take it as a former participant in his battle for achievement and as someone who was directly involved in it.

It is not necessary to dwell on the negative aspect of losing, especially if you have worked so hard to make your return so profitable. No, the gnarled facet of Ryan’s outlook on his years in cost owes extra to those that felt entitled to share within the grief of Limerick’s losses with out first providing one thing worthwhile to the trigger.

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Ryan knew that he would eventually meet the Limerick supervisors in late 1993.

One in all Limerick hurling’s most profitable managers, Ryan has a number of issues left to say in regards to the county board.


Taking part in and training have all the time gone hand-in-hand for Ryan.”‘I used to be managing groups from about eight years of age,” he insists, laughing at how incredulous it sounds.

“You couldn’t make it up – I was always in a kind of managerial role … captain, trainer, selector … and player all at the same time.”

Limerick’s most formidable hurler, he was able to represent Limerick at the 1973 All-Eire final. However, the same strong exterior that may have characterized his managerial style was already there in the participant.

“Ballybrown were playing Patrickswell, and Tom was a bit injured, so they threw him in at full-forward,”Liam Lenihan recollects the stories of the Limerick selector with whom he served in the Nineteen Nineties.

“Now, Tom’s mom occurred to be in hospital presently and the Patrickswell goalie got here out simply earlier than the match began.

“‘How’s your mother getting on Tom?’ Well, Tom just looked at him. ‘If you don’t stay inside in your goal, you’ll be within in the hospital and can ask her yourself’.”

He was not a tough guy by nature. Ryan was content to keep the surface world at bay even though he appeared happy. This was only because he had many thoughts. Not more than Paul Kinnerk or his like in the present day, teaching and administration occupied an unbelievable quantity of Ryan’s pondering time.

Though he has loved watching Limerick win All-Irelands in recent times, he’s fast to share his mistrust of the ‘showbiz’It is surrounded by the most popular recreation. “It’s not hurling at all,”He speaks of the fashion Kinnerk had Limerick take part in.

And but, stylistic preferences apart, it’s inconceivable to look again on Ryan’s time in cost and never consider how shut he got here to doing what Limerick have solely just lately managed to attain.

The extraordinary work Kinnerk has executed to turn out to be an elite hurling coach has been vindicated in Limerick’s success. Ryan’s same hard work has been forgotten in defeat.


“We had a supreme sports team, and we were classed as losers,”He stated. “It is a sore point for me.” Though, by Ryan’s admission, the county job was not on his radar in late 1993, it was a job he had spent most of his life getting ready for, in a method or one other.

He was a passionate sports fan and was attracted to people and groups that excelled beyond the GAA world. He was born in 1944. He was lucky to have been alive during a relative flurry high-profile Eire rugby matches.

“I based a lot of my own theories on the All Blacks,”He explains that Ryan, a 19-year-old, was well-placed in 1963 when New Zealand defeated Munster in Thomond Park. “I checked out them and thought to myself, what have they received that makes them so particular?

“I studied them and located that their velocity, their aggression, and their dedication, put along with the talents that they’d … that grew to become the premise of my complete teaching and managerial idea.’

Originally of that very same 12 months, as England was overrun by excessive winter climate circumstances, one other inspirational determine of his, Matt Busby, was guiding Manchester United by way of a collection of exhibition matches in Eire to maintain his gamers lively.

Avidly researching what he may about teaching, the flexibility to enhance a participant’s efficiency degree has all the time fascinated him. Nearer to dwelling, Seán Boylan in Meath captured Ryan’s creativeness in later years.

“I love Boylan,”He admits, “Mick O’Dwyer too. He was a rogue, but you need a bit of that as well.” By means of the likes of Busby, Boylan, O’Dwyer, and certainly, Alex Ferguson additionally, Ryan recognized, of their longevity, a shared attribute to be prized.

Each had found a way to stabilize the demands of managing down towards gamers and up toward decision-makers over the years and years of their respective positions.

The success which in the end eluded Ryan might have helped him navigate dealings with the decision-makers higher, however he might properly argue that not one in all Busby, Boylan, O’Dwyer or Ferguson needed to take care of the Limerick County Board.

Ryan was summoned on the Gaelic Grounds to discuss his future role as Limerick hurling supervisor, little less than a week after the 1996 All-Eire loss to Wexford. Or so it was written.


Tom Ryan promoted Mark Foley (an ex-Limerick participant).

“Nobody summoned Tom Ryan to any meeting,” he states definitively. “I’m one man you wouldn’t summon to a gathering. The Irish Unbiased had been fed this info, you see, so I rang the county secretary, Jimmy Hartigan.

“‘Tell me, what’s this I’m reading this morning about being summoned to a meeting? What’s that about?’ He replies, saying, ‘Well, haven’t we a meeting scheduled?’ I told him that we had, but I hadn’t been summoned to it.”

Following Limerick’s second All-Eire last defeat in three years, tensions had been fraught amongst county board members. Though it was routine for such a gathering between the officers and the administration staff to fulfill at season’s finish, the ‘summoning’Ryan mentioned that the assembly indicated that cordial relations had been ended.

“They were trying to be clever, you see, but I knew who I was dealing with,” explains Ryan. “So, I mentioned to Hartigan, ‘With any meeting, the first thing we have to have is an agenda.’ I instructed him that I wished that agenda on my desk by 5pm or there could be no assembly.

“So, they panicked. About six of them got together very quickly and they put down their thoughts in writing. That was a mistake. They did it so hurriedly that they even printed the mistakes just so they could have it out.”

Unbeknownst to all concerned, the notorious ’20 Questions’ had been about to be requested.


Mike Fitzgerald, one among three county board members, sat alongside Ryan on the night he was appointed supervisor at the Woodlands Lodge three-years earlier. Henry Martin was able to get more details about how this regrettable doctor came to be: “It was felt, fairly than having an advert hoc dialogue, that there needs to be a component of management to the assembly and ask the administration 5 or 6 questions. Among the officers had been lacking on the night time, and when it completed up, it was felt that they need to be consulted if they’d something so as to add.

“The list of questions finished up at 20 and some of them were sensitive. Some of them were a bit petty and should never have been put down in print. They should have been summarised into four of five questions. They were never meant to be an official document.”

Ryan’s errors, which Ryan referred to being printed on the final doc, reflect the unintentional nature that those questions were put to paper. Dated Monday 9, September, Martin’s There are no limits to the heartbreakThe Limerick County Board wanted to answer all of the following questions:

1. We lost the match because of this.

2. Have been Tom’s selectors aware of all plans related to the staff?

3. What is Dave Mahedy’s exact position?

4. Are the hurley-carriers justified when the panel has gamers who should be on the stand?

5. Why was Mike Galligan not included within the first six after it was indicated he couldn’t play video games previous to the All-Eire and was instructed by Dave Mahedy that he could also be on from the beginning if Owen O’Neill was not match?

6. Are the gamers given any guidance regarding decorum and behaviour for the ultimate? Dave Mahedy was present while it (the behavior prior to the throw in) was taking place.

7. What was the reason for it (the behavior prior to the throw-in being allowed to happen)? What happened on Monday night prior to the final?

8. Gamers pestered for tickets – What was executed about it?

9. Deficiency of punctuality on weekends.

10. Why did the staff get out so quickly after half-time?

11. Sandra (Marsh GAAPRO, Limerick GAAPRO) asked Tom for information re: Shaws jerseys. Dave Mahedy was referred. ‘We are getting f**k all from Shaws.’

12.Is there a necessity for the 2 ladies Cora and Sinéad?

13.Involvement in Kilmurray Lodge by three selectors: re Munster last Monday, and All-Eire last Tuesday?

14. Did you have any pre-planning in place for the possibility of a staff member dropping off a participant during the day?

15. Do the selectors agree to any duty in return for us dropping the sport

16. Do they believe Dave Mahedy will be the right man to coach their staff?

17. Is Tom (Ryan), of the opinion that Limerick Hurling’s most successful pursuits are served by him persevering as the Supervisor of Senior Hurling Workforce. This group of gamers has reached and lost 2 All-Irelands. Wouldn’t it not be higher to make a contemporary begin underneath a brand new Supervisor?

18. Joe Quaid was it instructed to fluctuate the puck-out to make use of the extra man in the second half?

19. Do you think the gamers were properly handled?

20. Is there any money that has not been given to supporters members since any member of the administration was handed?

Time has not softened Ryan’s outrage over this incident. “They were a disgrace,”He was still incredulous at the way the county board had handled him and his backroom staff. “I walked in and the entire Politburo had been there, all 14 of them sitting round a desk.

“‘If you think that I’ll reply these questions, ye are making an enormous mistake. You’ll be able to shove them up your f*****g arse’.

“That was the language I used. I didn’t spare them.”

The brand new e-book about Limerick hurling

‘Limerick: A Biography in Nine Lives’ by Arthur James O’Dea is printed by Hero Books and is on the market in all good bookstores (and likewise on Amazon as an book €9.99, paperback €20 and hardback €25)

Source: ‘If you think I’ll reply these questions, shove them up your f****** arse’ – learn an extract from ‘Limerick: A Biography in Nine Lives’

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