Pupils show their support for Limerick Hurlers: Lila O' Sullivan, Sam Hogan, Cormac Ryan Rian Hurley, Tara Madigan, and Gearoid O'Callaghan with principal Richie Ryan | Picture: Michael Cowhey
PREMIER principal of Castleconnell national school, Richie Ryan is promising no homework on Monday if Tipperary win.
For once his Limerick pupils will be happy to do their sums and spellings! The Newport man even has a blue and gold flag hanging out his office window ahead of Sunday’s clash between Limerick and Tipperary in Thurles. Over 35,000 are expected in Semple Stadium.
“I had to bring my flag in a bit earlier than I would like last year. It was a tough year for me,” said Richie. However, it is flying proudly as Tipp have dispatched Cork, Waterford and Clare with ease.
“The banter in the school has started fairly early. I wore the Tipp jersey the day after Cork beat Limerick. The kids enjoy it. It is a good bit of craic,” smiled Richie. Despite bleeding blue and gold he admits he was happy to see Declan Hannon lifting Liam MacCarthy last August.
“Especially for the kids in the school and the supporters who had followed them for years. One of our own teachers Alan Murray is a brother of former Limerick goalkeeper Brian and our SNA Mary Hassett, whose son Adam Murrihy is on the minors this year, would be included in that. They are real Limerick hurling people.”
But Richie doesn’t want them to make a habit of it!
“When you’re living on the border, the rivalry is even stronger. We’re literally the last house in the parish of Newport surrounded on three sides by County Limerick. There’s a bridge at Clonsingle. When we were younger and Limerick played Tipp, the Limerick lads used to decorate the bridge in green and white flags and bunting. In the night we’d come along and take them down and put up blue and gold. The bridge even ended up painted green and white and blue and gold one year,” said Richie.
He played hurling and football with Newport until last year including beside great centre back Conor O’Mahony.
“My own son Aaron is now hurling U-10s with Newport and I'm the coach. We often end up playing against Ahane in blitzes and some of the pupils from third and fourth class would be on the Ahane team. It's another element of the friendly rivalry and the fun that comes about from living just across the border.”
Richie has been teaching in the home of the Mackeys for 12 years and has been principal since 2015. While he is heavily outnumbered by Limerick supporters there are a couple of Tipp pupils and he has Avril Jones and Martina Jones on the staff to back him up. He is looking forward to this Sunday’s clash and then the fundraising Mid Summer Run for Castleconnell Community Sports Facility on Sunday week, June 23.
“There is nothing in it. It should be a cracker. I’m looking forward to the match ups - Aaron Gillane and maybe Ronan Maher, ones like that. I’d love to see Tipp win it by a point or two. I think it is going to be a ding dong battle.” And if Tipperary win Richie has promised no homework for the whole school on Monday!
Stand tickets for Sunday’s 2pm throw-in have been sold-out since Monday. A massive crowd is expected in Semple Stadium. RTE are showing the match live.
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