IN the spring of 2012, Stephen Ryan was wing back on the Doon side that won the Corn Phadraig.
Since that one point win over Dungarvan, success has followed success for Ryan.
This Saturday he chases another honour - to captain Doon’s Scoil na Trionoide Naofa to a first ever Harty Cup title when they play Ardscoil Ris in the Gaelic Grounds at 1.30.
In that Munster senior B success of two years ago Ryan was wing back.
Michael Dee and Dean Coleman are others that remain in the school team.
Ryan and Coleman have shared a remarkable journey. Within months of the school win they collected county minor honours with Doon. They have since defended that club title and of course ended Limerick’s famine in the Munster minor hurling championship.
For good measure, Ryan and Doon were crowned Munster minor champions last Autumn. So with county and club provincial honours in the bag, the school captain is undaunted about chasing another Munster title.
“I have had a few big days but this is my first big day with the school. The last two or three years has been good - with county finals and the Munster championship, but this is a first Harty final in 83 years. It’s massive for the whole school and we are feeling the hype but we are building ourselves up for it but trying to keep relaxed at the same time,” Ryan told LeaderSport at a school training session.
Doon are the underdogs but Ryan is confident in the ability of his colleagues.
“We want to win this but we know what kind of a challenge it will be with Ardscoil Ris - they are very strong and have a few we will know but we just have to work hard and we believe in ourselves. They have plenty from Na Piarsaigh and a few from Sixmilebridge and places - but we will know them all well from coming up against them through the years. But they will know us as well.”
Saturday’s finalists met at the quarter-final stage last year when Ardscoil Ris were 3-9 to 0-9 winners. It’s a game that is still vivid in the Doon memory.
“Thinking about the Harty last year we didn’t have enough work done. When we played Ardscoil Ris they had their home work done on us - we tried our best but they were better so hopefully we can take it a step further this year. The group stages last year were a bit easier than this year and we didn’t get out of third gear. This year we haven’t been perfect but we kept ticking away and can go up the gears,” explained the centre back.
Even in training the spirit that has stood them in good stead is evident.
“Sometimes we have been slow to start but once we get into it we step up to the challenge and the opposition knew that we won’t go down without a fight. We would back each other up to the last. There is five or six different clubs but we have been doing this since September and that’s five or six months of hard work, so we all know each other inside out and know what we can do.”