'These things aren't taken for granted' - 38 in-a-row for Waterford kingpins Ballymac

Astonishing stuff.

ballymac 38-in-a-row: Wateford kingpins Ballymacarbry. Source: Tomás McCarthy Twitter.

AND SO, BALLYMACARBRY’S remarkable dominance of Waterford ladies football continues after they made it 38 senior championship titles in-a-row yesterday.

Captain Sinéad Ryan inspired her side to glory with a Player of the Match performance which saw her post 1-9 in a thrilling battle against Comeragh Rangers at Kilrossanty GAA.

Comeragh started brightest, racing into a 0-4 to 0-0 lead, before Ryan eventually opened Ballymac’s account. They went six points down at one stage, but a much-needed Ryan goal as half time approached left three in it at the break. 

The second half was a tit-for-tat affair with Michelle Ryan and Aileen Wall stepping up for Ballymac. With four minutes left, it was all square but Ballymac’s experience shone through as they tagged on a few points to run out 1-14 to 0-14 winners.

Three Ryan sisters were in action — Sinéad, Michelle and Louise — with their father, former Waterford, Westmeath and long-time Ballymac manager and now coach, Michael, and mother, Catherine, who played for the side through the 80s, watching on.

“Numbers don’t matter, it still means just as much,” as Michelle, who completed a 19th consecutive season with Waterford this year, tweeted afterwards.

And she echoed those sentiments to The42 this afternoon.

“Numbers don’t necessarily matter,” Ryan, who collected Waterford senior championship medal number 20 yesterday, said. “People can sometimes get fixated on, ‘Ah sure look, it’s 38.’

These things really do still matter. There’s no sense of complacency. These things aren’t taken for granted, they mean a lot and when you get to share that then with your sisters, some of your best friends and girls you’ve been playing football with since you could walk, it just makes it even better. There is nothing like club at the end of the day.

Ryan noted that the game was a “serious battle” and while Ballymac struggled at early doors, they always knew they could get the job done despite Comeragh’s strong challenge.

“We have great experience on our panel so there was never an element of panic which I think is what definitely saw us out in the end,” she explained. “There was always that composure and belief that once we settled into our rhythm, we were capable of bringing back whatever lead that was there.

ryans The Ryan family. Source: Michelle Ryan Twitter.

“In the first half we were definitely anxious to get on the scoreboard and not let them get too far ahead. The goal was definitely crucial. It just edged us back in and kept us in touch.

It comes as no surprise to us that they challenged us that much. It might have come as a surprise to some neutrals or some who maybe tune into Waterford ladies football now and then and they’re just used to hearing about Ballymac.

“But it came as no surprise to us as players, knowing them, having played with them and against them as much as we have, we’d know that they’re always capable of doing that, to be honest.”

Ryan praised her team-mates at length in a more in-depth conversation which will be published on The42 later this week, but a special word had to go to her sister, Sinéad.

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“The one thing I would think is fantastic about our team is the amount of leaders that are there,” the teacher added. “We have quite a number of county players but you can rely on absolutely everybody and anybody to step up.

Sinéad is our captain this year, and she was absolutely on fire yesterday. We were so delighted that she was because from a scoring point of view, some of us were struggling at times and things just weren’t happening.

“You kind of knew the form she was in after getting the goal in the first half, anything she had a pop at was more than likely going to go over the bar. She was building in confidence as the game went on. It was great for her, but great for us as well.”

ryans 2 The Ryan sisters. Source: Michelle Ryan Twitter.

So another special day for the club, capped in style.

“We’ve grown up playing with each other and grown up with ladies football, it always has been so central,” she smiles. “The thing about coming through matches like that is they just make it that bit more memorable or remarkable.

“We’re all waking up this morning feeling like we’ve been through a battle, definitely physically. Being able to do that with your sisters beside you is great.

We’re really, really close as a club. There’s a lot of sisters, cousins, very good friends on the panel. There’s a great camaraderie and unity among the girls, and there always has been.

“When you’ve been through a tough battle like that, that only increases. You know that the girls to your right and your left, you can rely on them absolutely.”


Elsewhere, Kilmihil were crowned Clare senior champions for the first time after their 3-12 to 0-12 victory denied the Banner a ninth consecutive title.

The Considine sisters led the way for Kilmihil; Irish rugby international Eimear’s early goal setting the tone as 2019 AFLW Grand Final winner with Adelaide Crows, Ailish, put in a Player of the Match-winning performance.

kil The Kilmihil celebrations in full flow. Source: Fitzpatrick's Costcutter Kilmihil Facebook.

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Emma Duffy

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