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Club Legend: Larry Ryan is Kilmacud Crokes’ high king

Lord Mayor of Stillorgan enjoyed decades with club and county

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Larry Ryan of Kilmacud Crokes with his wife Carmel

Larry Ryan of Kilmacud Crokes with his wife Carmel

Larry Ryan of Kilmacud Crokes with his wife Carmel

Larry Ryan is at home. In the back room. Sitting at the table. Where he spends so many happy hours reading. The Sunday Business Post is in the corner.

His son, Emmet, writes for them. Emmet has written books. His article for the Post on Mattress Mick won him The Business Interview of the Year Award.

Larry’s childhood was entranced by the sight of the sliotar landing softly on the hallowed turf of Semple Stadium. He was reared beside the ground. In Bóthar na Naomh, a neighbourhood teeming with revered hurling names.

Larry played in the Thurles Street Leagues. With players who’d win All-Irelands. He was a full-forward. He moved to Dublin. Getting a job in the Dun Laoghaire Post Office.

“It was on Marine Road. You’d be walking down there at 5.30am on a winter’s morning and the wind would go right through you,” he remembers.

He played for The Grocers. The job then took him to Portlaoise, where he lined out with Rovers. Then it was back to Bray Emmets, Civil Service, Patrick Moran’s and Kilmacud.

“I was playing for Civil Service. The manager told me I didn’t need to travel next week. We were playing Patrick Moran’s and they played in Sallynoggin.

“I was living in Dun Laoghaire, so I then decided to sign for Moran’s. That was a good transfer for me!”

Larry well remembers the early days of Kilmacud. The merger with Crokes. And marvels at the club he’s seeing today. The journey of all the codes. The success of the Sevens.

His portrait hangs in the boardroom at Glenalbyn. And it’s little wonder. He filled so many roles for club and county.

Wearing multiple hats. On so many boards. He smiles when he recalls one incident: “I was secretary of the Dublin Juvenile Board. There was a dispute involving Kilmacud, so, as also secretary of Kilmacud, I had to write to myself! And reply too!

“It’s wonderful to see the floodlights at Páirc de Búrca. And the way the club has grown so much. We have had so many good days.”

One of his happiest of all came in 1992 when Crokes won the Dublin Junior Hurling Championship. “That was a hard one to win, and I was trying for years to win it as a player and mentor.”

He was a mentor of the Crokes team that beat Faughs in the final at O’Toole Park. “With three minutes to go, we were behind by two points. It looked all over. We made a couple of changes and, suddenly, we scored a goal and three points to win the game.

“It was a dramatic victory. The same night the camogie team had a function in the old hall at Glenalbyn, and myself and our captain, Danny Ryan, danced around the floor with the Cup. Not spilling a drop!”

Many Championships have arrived in Stillorgan. “When we were trying to get the games going back in the 1950s, a fella said to me that I was banging my head against a brick wall. And that Gaelic games would never catch on in Dun Laoghaire.

“Well, we have won two All-Ireland senior football titles, and Cuala have won two All-Ireland Senior hurling titles, so I think there’s a big dent in that wall at this stage,” he chuckles.

He commends the success of the Dublin footballers and he’d love to see the hurlers lift the MacCarthy. “Why not. If a club team can be the best team in the country, why can’t that county be the best team in Ireland? They have been getting close. I think it will happen.”

Tradition plays a part. “Back in Tipp, you’d see lads cycling three or four miles to school with their schoolbags and their hurls.”

Tipp have enjoyed some fruitful days. Larry savoured the big Munster Championship clashes with Cork. He was at one in Limerick. The early ’50s. A sweltering day. “The place was jammed. 60,000. You couldn’t move.

“I was so thirsty. A fella behind me said, ‘Are you thirsty, son? Take a sip of this.’ I did. It burned the throat off me. But it took away the thirst. He said it was rum that he had got off the boat at Cork that morning!”

“In those days, you’d have fellas with a horse and cart bringing people up to the ground.” He has seen the great teams, and the great players. And he’s still seeing them.

“The live streaming of games is brilliant, but I hope to get over to Parnell Park before the season is over.”

For so long, Larry was in charge of the ticket distribution at Kilmacud Crokes. The Thursday night of the loaves and the fishes.

“Coming up to the All-Ireland final, especially with Dublin being involved, the phone would start ringing here at eight in the morning,” explains Larry’s wife, Carmel. Larry says he didn’t like to disappoint anyone. “I searched every nook and cranny. And, thankfully, I was able to look after most of them.”

Larry didn’t always need a ticket himself! “I lost my ticket for an All-Ireland final. I went to Croke Park anyway and this fella let me in.

“I sat in the Lower Cusack Stand. They were just rows of benches then. I explained to the person beside me what happened and that I’ll probably have to move soon. And sure enough, people with their tickets came in. But as I got up to go, the man I was talking to asked everyone to move up a little, so I was able to stay!

“I have met marvellous people. So many friends. It was worth every minute.”


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