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The ex-Limerick boss who started to coach Galway club after last year's All-Ireland hurling final

TJ Ryan came on board after the Croke Park decider and has helped St Thomas reach an All-Ireland club semi-final.
Jan 31st 2019, 3:08 PM 11,204 1

IN THE WAKE of Galway’s All-Ireland hurling final loss last August, Eanna Burke sought to find some refuge back at base with his club.

He returned to training that week with St Thomas, eager to move on after the crushing Croke Park disappointment. They were getting set to tackle the concluding group stage matches in the Galway county championship when Burke noticed a new figure in their coaching team.

TJ Ryan rects near the end of the game TJ Ryan stepped down as Limerick hurling manager in 2016.

TJ Ryan has plenty hurling experience but it was striking to see a figure synonymous with Limerick hurling starting out in a new role in Galway circles so soon after the Liam MacCarthy Cup decider.

“The first evening I went back was the Thursday after the All-Ireland final,” recalls Burke.

“I hadn’t actually realised he was with us. I said who is your man below setting up a few cones. We shook hands and we didn’t really mention it. That was it, we parked it there since and we haven’t mentioned it.”

It has been a partnership that has paid off. Ryan has worked closely alongside St Thomas manager Kevin Lally and last November the club collected their third Galway senior title in six seasons.

An All-Ireland semi-final against Antrim’s Cushendall beckons on Saturday week as the 2013 club kingpins are starting to dream of a return to the national summit.

St. Thomas players celebrates with the trophy St Thomas players celebrating their 2018 Galway senior hurling triumph. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“He was a fresh voice for the boys and obviously he would have serious game management skills behind him,” says Burke.

“He is a good asset to have. He is excellent, I suppose he is with the times, he realises it is player based, he gets our opinion.

“He works off that we give him ideas, he gives us ideas. There is a healthy relationship. He takes what we have to say onboard and vice versa. I was chatting to him after the county final over a few drinks and he was saying that Kevin (Lally) had been on to him since last year.”

Eanna Burke dejected at the end of the game A dejected Eanna Burke after Galway's All-Ireland final loss last year.

Ryan was double-jobbing for a time as his home club Garryspillane were chasing a Limerick intermediate hurling title.

“Yeah, they won the intermediate, but they didn’t win the Munster. We actually missed him one day when we were playing in a county quarter-final, it went to extra-time and we won. I’d say he was on the phone saying these boys better not get bet.

“We just about scraped through and he has massive experience for us. But when we came back then there was a massive drive within the group to win another county championship so he said we’d give it a go. It worked out well.”

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Join us to preview the Six Nations with Simon Zebo, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey on Thursday @7pm in Liberty Hall Theatre Dublin.

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Fintan O'Toole

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