Cork GAA mourns the passing of legendary coach Eamonn Ryan

Watergrasshill native guided ladies footballers to 10 All-Ireland titles
Cork GAA mourns the passing of legendary coach Eamonn Ryan

Former Cork manager Eamonn Ryan in his last game with the ladies footballers at Croke Park in 2015. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

CORK has lost a true GAA figurehead with the passing of Eamonn Ryan.

Eamonn Ryan and Geraldine O'Flynn, Angela Walsh and Deirdre O'Reilly celebrate after defeating Dublin in 2014.  Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Eamonn Ryan and Geraldine O'Flynn, Angela Walsh and Deirdre O'Reilly celebrate after defeating Dublin in 2014.  Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The native of Watergrasshill, where he was known as The Master, had staggering success with the Cork ladies footballers, taking over when they had never even won a Munster title before steering them to 10 All-Irelands in 11 seasons until he stepped away in 2015. For good measure, they also won nine Division 1 leagues in that period.

Vastly experienced as a trainer but extremely approachable and likeable as a mentor, Ryan got the most from a golden generation of Rebels, who never lost a game at Croke Park in his tenure.

However, that was just the tip of the iceberg for the former Cork senior footballer, who resided in Beál Áthan Ghaorthaidh. He had a seismic impact with Na Piarsaigh, UCC and his own clubs the Hill and Glenville, with an equal passion for both codes. In Beál Átha, his fingerprints were all over their 2006 county title.

Cork legend Eamonn Ryan.
Cork legend Eamonn Ryan.

Ryan was the GAA officer in the College until he had to retire at 65 and was involved with Na Piarsaigh in club hurling victories in the senior championship. He was in the Cork senior football management in 1983 when Tadhg Óg Murphy struck a dramatic late goal to be Kerry in the Munster final, scenes which were echoed this winter through Mark Keane. 

He was on board with the Cork minors in 1991 and '93 when All-Irelands were won. Ryan served as a Cork senior football selector with Peadar Healy in recent years and also assisted the Limerick ladies footballers.

UCC team that drew with Beara in the 1967 county football final. Back: Mick Morris, Mick Power, John Stack, Gerry O'Donoghue, Ger O'Reilly, John O'Halloran, Vincie Cronin, Mick Fleming, P J Gormley, Moss Keane, Brendan O'Keeffe, Christy O'Sullivan, Brian Hurley. Front: Ray Cummins, Dick Geaney, Paddy O'Donoghue, Denis Philpott, Pat O'Connell, Sean McGrath, Eric Philpott, Eamonn Ryan, Tom Johnston, Liam Sayers. 
UCC team that drew with Beara in the 1967 county football final. Back: Mick Morris, Mick Power, John Stack, Gerry O'Donoghue, Ger O'Reilly, John O'Halloran, Vincie Cronin, Mick Fleming, P J Gormley, Moss Keane, Brendan O'Keeffe, Christy O'Sullivan, Brian Hurley. Front: Ray Cummins, Dick Geaney, Paddy O'Donoghue, Denis Philpott, Pat O'Connell, Sean McGrath, Eric Philpott, Eamonn Ryan, Tom Johnston, Liam Sayers. 

Paying tribute to him former Cork County Board chairperson Tracey Kennedy said that it was “incredibly” sad news.

“Eamonn gave so, so much to the GAA and LGFA over a lifetime and was unbelievably wise and generous with his wisdom. He will be very sadly missed. Condolences to all who mourn him.” 

LGFA President Marie Hickey said: "Eamonn Ryan was a larger than life character who guided Cork to unprecedented success during his spell in charge.

“Eamonn had a unique bond with the players he worked alongside, who all speak of his influence in glowing terms. Many of us in the LGFA also had the opportunity to get to know Eamonn on a personal level over the course of many years.

“He joined us on TG4 All-Star tours abroad and he was such a personable character and engaging company. I am deeply saddened to learn of Eamonn’s passing and he leaves behind an incredible legacy."

Watergrasshill chairman Kieran O’Keeffe said he showed a huge interest in the club's hurling right to the end. 

"He put the first hurley in so many children’s hands in school and fostered a love of the game. We are indebted to him for his time, interest and skill that he shared so willingly with so many of us. Many of our club members were introduced to hurling through Eamonn. 

"I was privileged to be taught by him as was my father. He had a unique way of engaging with young people and getting their attention. He is fondly remembered and will be sadly missed."

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

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