Limerick boys do it for Ryan's sake


After weeks of Byzantine intrigue and court whispers about his imminent deposition, Limerick's manager Tom Ryan was in good humour in the Cusack Park dressing-room yesterday afternoon. His team had taken the county's 11th National Hurling League title and even if no one is sure that he will survive the managerial review process, yesterday didn't make the task of removing him any easier.

"There's life in the old dog yet," said Ryan. "We've won one of the best Leagues that has been played for years and we're delighted to be champions. It'll make the winter shorter and hopefully hurling in Limerick will benefit from it."

To Ryan's credit, the team was imaginatively recast and both converted attackers on the half-back line, TJ Ryan and Jack Foley, played a significant role in a tightcovering defence.

"We had a lot of young lads out there today who gave the commitment," said Ryan. "There may be better players than them, but they won't give the commitment and they'll stand in the background and people keep saying: `why isn't he on, why isn't he on?'.

"He isn't on because we want a total commitment. I won't settle and never did for any half measures, no excuses."

In relation to the topical matter of his own position, Ryan was phlegmatic. "This isn't about Tom Ryan, it's about hurling, it's about Limerick, it's about our place in the hurling fraternity - we've got to maintain it, we've got to go back and do what we haven't done yet and win an All-Ireland.

"I always operate without fear or favour and I never wronged anyone and I don't intend to do it. Let's sit down and get together, let bygones be bygones, shake hands, let the dust settle and then pick a manager - whoever the manager may be, he won't have any opposition from Tom Ryan."

Hat still in the ring?

"I won't even think of it tonight. I'm going to get drunk."

Team captain Gary Kirby had expressed support for his team manager in his acceptance speech on the podium. The team was "right behind" Ryan, he said. Later he elaborated.

"In fairness, no matter what happens after this, the way people have been knocking Tom has been totally unfair. Whether he's there next year or not, that's up to the county board, but we'd have no problem working with him for another year."