Tributes paid to former Cork football captain Christy Ryan

St Finbarr’s dual star won club All-Irelands in both football and hurling

Warm tributes have been paid to former Cork dual star and All-Ireland club winning footballer and hurler Christy Ryan who passed away at the age of 63 at his home in Cork city on Tuesday following a long illness.

Ryan captained the Cork footballers to National League success in 1980, the same year he picked up a National Hurling League medal when he lined up with the hurlers, an achievement he shared with his brother-in-law, Jimmy Barry-Murphy.

And he captained the Cork football team that shocked All-Ireland champions Kerry in the 1983 Munster Final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh when Tadhg Murphy scored a last-minute goal and he picked up a second Munster medal in 1987 when Cork again defeated Kerry.

A member of the Cork football team from 1978 until 1987, he retired from intercounty football after that year’s All-Ireland defeat to Meath but he continued playing hurling and football with his club, St Finbarr’s, appearing in 20 county finals, winning 11 county medals – six in hurling and five in football.

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He also won four All-Ireland club titles with the Barrs – lining out at full forward in their 1978 hurling win over Wexford side Rathnure and then picking up three football medals with the club when they won the All-Ireland club championship in 1980, 1981 and 1987.

Former Cork hurler and fellow Barrsman, Charlie McCarthy said that he would remember the Ryan as a great servant of both Cork and St Finbarr’s and while he was more noted as a footballer in terms of his intercounty career, he was a valuable member of the Barr’s hurling side.

“I hurled with Christy from 1977 up until 1981 – he was a fantastic clubman and the service he gave to the Barrs in hurling and football from an early age was unbelievable – he was with the Barrs since he was a young fellow,” said McCarthy.

“He gave great service to us – he won his first county medal with the hurlers in 1977 and he won hurling medals in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984 and 1988 – he was fine and strong and very competitive but a very good hurler as well – he got some great scores for us when things weren’t going too well

“He usually played wing forward for us and he often pulled it out of the hat for us so he will be sadly missed in the club and of course it’s desperately sad for his wife Miriam and his three daughters, Susan, Gillian and Frances – he’s gone far too young.”

Ryan won five Cork senior football championships with the Barrs in 1976, 1979, 1980, 1982 and 1985 and among his team-mates on many of those successful sides was Cork footballer Dave Barry, who remembered Ryan as a huge presence on and off the pitch.

“I was 18 and sitting on the bench when we beat Castlehaven in 1979 and Christy was a stalwart on that team – he was 22 or 23 at that stage and then I played with him all through the 80s with the Barrs as well as with Cork and he became a great friend.

“I remember he played with Cork in the 1987 All-Ireland – I missed that game but it just showed his versatility – he was known as a centre back and a midfield player but he went in that day at full forward – he could play anywhere.

“He was a big man and when he was on the pitch, you felt you were going to be looked after with him around. He was a great competitor, when the going got tough, he was always around, any game he played, it was always 100 per cent, he never held back.

“Christy epitomised the Barrs to me because when he turned up with a hurley, you saw exactly the same intensity as he showed for the footballers. He was a tremendous team-mate to have around the dressingroom, the Barrs is a sad and sorry place today without him.