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St Finbarr's players celebrate their Munster title win.
St Finbarr's players celebrate their Munster title win.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

'Tough week for the family but a win this morning and a win there for us'

St Finbarr’s defender Sam Ryan dedicated today’s Munster win to his brother Cian.
Jan 16th 2022, 5:42 PM 50,871 0

MUNSTER SENIOR GLORY was secured in Semple Stadium this afternoon, but for St Finbarr’s defender Sam Ryan there was a more important result closer to home today.

After a tough week off the pitch, Ryan dedicated today’s club football success to his older brother Cian, who was rushed to hospital last weekend but is recovering after spending this week in ICU in the Cork University Hospital.

“It’s been an emotional week. My brother is currently up in the CUH (Cork University Hospital) ICU. He’s listening in there now, so just a big shoutout to him. He gave me strength today. Tough week for the family but a win this morning and a win there for us.

“Cian’s on the mend and thanks to all the nurses and doctors up there, they’re doing a great job. Things are looking great. This is only football, that’s real life. I was thinking of him today when I was jumping up for that ball and I knew he was with me.

“He’s older than me, he’s 30, he just got rushed to hospital last weekend. It was a bit of a shock, you never expect these things to come to your front door. I was talking to him last night. I haven’t missed training because he’d kill me if I wasn’t training.

“He was listening to it today. I put the Barrs headband around his bed this morning. When he woke up, the nurses were asking him what it was for and he said there’s a Munster final today, and that his brother was playing.

“So great news this morning and that gave me a boost. I was just playing for him today and thinking about him all the time.”

His preparations for today’s showdown with Kerry champions Austin Stacks may have been difficult, but once the action commenced Ryan stood out as one of St Finbarr’s key players.

joseph-oconnor-with-ian-maguire-and-sam-ryan Austin Stacks player Joseph O'Connor in action against St Finbarr's duo Ian Maguire and Sam Ryan. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

alan-oconnor-jamie-burns-billy-hennessy-sam-ryan-and-goalkeeper-john-kerins Sam Ryan (second right - file photo). Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The defender was tasked with marking Austin Stacks’ marquee figure in Kieran Donaghy but shone in his defensive duties, particularly in the second half when St Finbarr’s were placed under huge pressure as the Tralee club chipped away at their lead.

“That’s what you judge yourself off, marking the best. Kieran Donaghy is one of the best. There was a lot of build-up, talking about the high ball in. You just plan for that and you just try not let him win it, make yourself awkward, make yourself hard work and I think I did that anyway.

“It’s a team effort. I think the full-back line and the half-back line, we’ve worked on that all through the year. It’s 12, 13 months in the making now. After every game we do the video analysis, we talk about what to improve on and that’s one of the things we’ve continued to improve on, every break there was a man coming in and we’re driving out. We were calm in the back.”

St Finbarr’s manager Paul O’Keeffe hailed Ryan’s contribution in the context of his personal build-up to the game.

paul-okeeffe St Finbarr's manager Paul O'Keeffe. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“That’s a measure of Sam’s character, he’s a real leader. All credit to him, he’d a very, very tough week. To produce a performance like that just shows the measure of him.

“Sam had an unbelievable game on Kieran Donaghy. That was kind of a worry for us going in, would Sam have the height or the strength for him, but he’d a fantastic game on him. That’s kind of demoralising then for them when they see Donaghy being beaten.

“When the pressure was on him, when they were resorting to bombing the ball in, he just managed to get the breaks and get a hand in. That kind of broke their spirit a bit.”

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For the St Finbarr’s players, it was an outcome to savour as they claimed the maiden Munster championship for this group.

Given the club’s illustrious history it is a landmark occasion for their current team, who have recovered from the serious beating they suffered against Dr Crokes in Munster in 2018.

“It’s all mindset and how you prepare for it,” said Ryan.

“We weren’t really set for that game. The county final was our goal that year. We knew we had more in us. Two more games now.

“It’s unbelievable, everything we dreamt of really and we’re not finished yet. Still two steps to go. Previous years we were just winning counties but this year we wanted bigger ones. That’s another trophy in the locker.

“You can see the community, they all travelled today, hearing them there for the last five minutes, shouting, ‘Allez Les Bleus’. That’s what drives you on, that’s what gives you the extra edge to keep pushing on for the last five minutes. It’s a dream come true.”


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Fintan O'Toole


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