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Ryan still a true Friend

CON RYAN is 10 years gone from the smokeless city. He misses the hum of Dublin hurling. For decades, he was at its heartbeat.

"We lived over in O'Toole Park," he smiles, recalling the days of the Dublin Junior Hurling Board, where himself, John Leonard and colleagues kept the small ball bouncing.

John worked in CIÉ. Matches started on time. Con walked around the sidelines, the sweet smell of his pipe wafting into the summer evening.

He enjoyed the company of his old friends. The banter. He is living in Navan now. He's hardly ever at home. He spends more time up at Navan O'Mahony's, doing whatever has to be done.

"I'm not one for sitting in the house. It's only a five-minute drive away if I get a clear road."

He celebrated his 80th birthday. The club gave him a surprise party. And through the throng came John Leonard. John rings him with news. The Friends of Dublin Hurling texts keep him up to date.

The city is a different landscape now. Con was a carpenter. He is from Golden in Tipperary. He first came to Dublin in 1971. He got a flat beside Na Fianna. And so the chapter began. Treasured memories of the Mobhi Road and all who dwell within.

He saw some fine hurlers. Dublin's first All Star Mick Bermingham stood tall.

"Joey Towell of Eoghan Ruadh was as good as the best of them."

Threatening

The famous Faughs were flying. He marvelled at O'Toole's three in-a-row and "Ballyboden came eventually. They had been threatening for a long time."

Con valued his colleagues on the Junior Hurling Board. "They were lovely people. You only had to ask them to do a job once."

New housing estates saw hurling expand. More clubs and more teams. Back in the early '70s, there were only three Junior Hurling Divisions in Dublin.

He is delighted to see the expansion and the achievements of Anthony Daly and his merry men. He says the Dubs will be in the Championship mix again.

Con is not sure about Tipp. "They are unpredictable at the moment. Cork could be a danger. I'm wondering will Clare reach the heights of last year. It's fairly open, but you can be sure Kilkenny will be there."

Con didn't play much himself, but he "followed Tipperary everywhere". He saw his first All-Ireland hurling final in 1958 when Tipp beat Galway. His Premier class overflows – Jimmy Doyle, John Doyle, Liam Devaney, Theo English and Nicky English.

Con still keeps a keen eye on Dublin. He will be wearing his heart on two sleeves for Sunday's clash in Nenagh.

He was honoured with a President's Award and then he got the FODH Hall of Fame accolade. "I couldn't believe it when they put me in the Hall of Fame."


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