Monday 21 October 2019

Family ties keeping Ryan grounded

Diarmuid Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile
Diarmuid Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

There was only one place Clare's Diarmuid Ryan was going to turn for advice ahead of his championship debut against Waterford earlier this month.

His brother Conor has seen both sides of inter-county life. In 2013, he reached the highest of highs, winning an All-Ireland title with the Banner, just the county's fourth time to lift Liam MacCarthy.

But he's also seen the cruel side of sport. Just a couple of years after helping Clare to glory, an illness which left him bereft of energy, struck. He was forced to retire from sport at the age of 26.

"It was an illness, a complicated illness that we never heard of before and it was a massive shock to the system," Diarmuid said of his brother.

"For now, he's there and he keeps in contact with the lads and he'll want us to achieve what he achieved and he'll be there every match I play and he'll give me a helping hand every match I play in the championship.

"It's not easy for him looking in, especially when he said he is a lot more nervous now looking in than he ever was when he was playing.

"Hopefully in the future he might find something that is going to give him the same satisfaction as when he was playing but for now he is happy enough sitting on the sidelines and giving me every bit of encouragement he can."

Had things worked out differently, Diarmuid would have made his debut at wing-forward in the win over Waterford with his brother at No 6. Instead, he had to settle for some sage advice.

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"He might give me a few pointers just to keep doing what you're doing and say you don't need to do anything special to impress or whatever, just keep doing your own thing.

"And it was great to have his experience as well, he has won All-Irelands with Clare, U-21s and senior level so he'd know what it was like making your championship debut. So I was feeding off him and feeding off his pointers and it kind of relaxed me."

But if he learned anything from his brother's story it's to appreciate every day you get to play.

"It came out of nowhere. One day he was playing at the top level of hurling, the next day he has to retire. It shows you can't take anything for granted and you really have to enjoy your hurling while you can."

Like his brother, Diarmuid has squeezed a lot into a short period of time. He won a Harty Cup title with Ard Scoil Rís last year before making his senior debut.

And Diarmuid admits that watching his brother deliver a man-of-the-match performance in Croke Park in the drawn 2013 final against Cork, before finishing the job the next day, had a significant impact on him.


"It was a massive incentive to play for Clare. When you win the All-Ireland you just dream of coming back here with the (cup).... most of those lads (currently with Clare) were still there and they were only young lads when they won the All-Ireland.

"A lot of them were my age (when they won), so I'm dreaming it'll happen for me. If it doesn't this year, hopefully in the coming years but hopefully I'll be able to achieve what they achieved before I retire."

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