Uncle John sings Paul's praises after delicious dozen lifts Ger's brave Blues

Niall Scully

DUBLIN were flying high with Ryanair in Thurles.

Paul Ryan has long been one of the purest strikers of a sliotar in Ireland.

And on the big stage, and when it mattered most, he delivered.

And delivered in style. A most delicious dozen of points as the Dubs came back from eight points in arrears to book an All-Ireland SHC quarter-final berth against Waterford.

If ever Ger Cunningham needed a player to step up to the plate, it was in Semple Stadium on Saturday evening.

Dublin travelled to Tipp with a negative tail-wind from the city.

And, because of it, most pundits were tipping Limerick to prevail.

But, as they say, cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Looking on with pride was Paul Ryan's uncle, John Ryan, the dedicated Ballyboden St Enda's mentor.

He has been a long-time fan of the nephew.

"Paul came up through all the ranks. He played for the Dublin Colleges team as well," explains John. "He has a great pair of wrists on him. And he's a fine reader of the game.

"He's a confidence player. If he's gets enough ball, he'll put them away.

"Saturday was just one of those nights.

"He got a good supply of ball, and, thankfully, it was a match when things fell for him. He gave a tremendous performance."

On the Thurles terraces, and back in Páirc Uí Mhurchú, every Ryan score was cheered to the rafters.

"We are all very proud of Paul. He's a great role model for the club, but we have had many role models."

Heroes like Gary Maguire, Conal Keaney, Shane Durkin, David O'Callaghan and Niall McMorrow.

"And over the years, we have had a lot of players who have represented us. Last season, Stephen Hiney retired from the Dublin team, and what a great guy Stephen is."

Early on, things were looking rather grim for the Blues. Limerick led by eight points after 26 minutes. Long Dublin deliveries were landing deep in the mouth of the Shannon.

As Brendan Cummins remarked on the radio: "You might as well be throwing biscuits at a bear".

"We have to accept that Dublin didn't really perform in the first half," states John.


"But they obviously went in at half-time and told themselves that they weren't going to be found wanting.

"And that's exactly what happened. You have to admire the performance of the lads when they were really up against it."

John was speaking in Ballycullen last Sunday morning following Boden's win over Naomh Olaf in Division 3 of the Dublin Adult Hurling League. He's on John Small's management crew with Alan Ryan, Alex McCarthy and Mick Glynn.

"Like the Dublin team, we faced our own challenges," explains John.

"We had lost to Na Fianna in the Championship, and the lads were hurting after that.

"It's always difficult to lift yourself when you have been beaten in the Championship.

"But fair play to the lads. They gave a very spirited performance.

"And that is all that you are ever looking for. You hope that a good performance will be reflected on the scoreboard."

John now wants Dublin to travel on for a few more miles on the blue-bricked road.

Next up is Waterford. John states the victory in Thurles will instil belief.

"I feel they are now in a good place. They proved their character against Limerick in difficult circumstances.

"And hopefully, they'll now kick on."