Monday 20 November 2017

Ireland's biggest fan recalls 40 years in the Green Army

Jim Ryan at World Cup in Korea
Jim Ryan at World Cup in Korea
Jim Ryan and Irish fans in Korea
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

He is perhaps Ireland's greatest fan. Jim Ryan has spent more than €500,000 supporting the Green Army over a period of 40 years.

The retired garda doesn't drink, smoke or gamble but has an incredible passion for Irish sport, from football to GAA, athletics and boxing.

He attended his first All-Ireland hurling final in 1966 and, since then, has made it to three Olympic Games, three World Cup finals, two European Championship finals and an estimated 1,000 Irish football matches.

Now Mr Ryan's collection of memorabilia will be the centrepiece of a special art exhibition in Blackpool Library, Cork, this weekend.

"I'm thrilled that it is going on public display," he said.

"If people get one tenth the pleasure from looking at these as I got from collecting them all over the world, it will all have been worthwhile."

Jim was there to cheer Ray Houghton's winning header against England at Euro 88 in Germany.

He was also there in Sydney in 2000 to see Sonia O'Sullivan clinch an Olympic medal - and in London in 2012 as Katie Taylor won a boxing gold for Ireland.

Jim reckons that the total mileage he has clocked up over the years following the Green Army would probably equate to a trip to the Moon.

"But you keep the memories long after you've forgotten the cost - some people spend a lot more sitting in the pub over their lives," he added.

Irish Independent

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