WHEN new Limerick hurling management announced their initial 41-man panel on November 1 last, there was no James Ryan.
The Garryspillane hurler had asked for some time out of the inter-county scene to consider his future.
By the second week of January, Ryan was back.
By the end of January, Ryan was confirmed as the new Limerick senior hurling captain.
The full-time Limerick GAA coach made his Munster SHC debut back in 2009, having previously played championship with the county footballers.
One of five remaining from the 2005 All Ireland minor hurling final defeat, Ryan lights up when he comes to discussing the Munster SHC, ahead of today’s quarter final derby in Thurles – 4.00 throw-in.
There may be statistics aplenty, but for Ryan the game remains simple – especially for Limerick.
”We need to hurl off the cuff,” he smiles.
“We have to play with intensity - everyone knows that our style of play is to get in your face and play with a high tempo. That’s what we are trying to produce come championship - it was there at times during the league but we would like to get more consistency,” Ryan told the youtude channel of Munster GAA.
He called for an “together, everyone wins more, attitude” from Limerick on Sunday.
”It’s a team that wins the Munster Championship not individuals so the more collectively that we can play as a team the better and not be going off as individuals,” he said.
The bookies make Limerick the 7/4 outsiders but Ryan isn’t concerned.
”I see a lot of people are placing us fifth because we are in Division 1B and will be again next year,” said Ryan ahead of his eighth Munster SHC.
”Clare will be very tough opposition - they have four All Ireland U-21 titles won and they are all coming to the peak of their ages now and they have the Ballyea fellas back after the club championship. To be fair, everyone that you meet in Munster are tough so we were happy with the draw, in that we were in a semi final. There are five teams in the Munster Championship and everyone is probably hoping for a semi final game, rather than playing a preliminary round. So we were delighted to get a semi final match and you win and you are in a Munster final,” he explained.
Consistency is another key word for Ryan and Limerick.
“We had plenty of ups and downs during the league campaign - we started off with a loss to Wexford, which was a game we had targeted to win but it went against us. Even though we made the league semi final again we had plenty ups and downs but we were happy to make two league semi finals in a row and it (Galway) was a good game to get before championship. In the league quarter final we were playing against Cork, who were a Division 1A team and that gave us extra motivation - then it was our second time in a three week period playing Galway and they beat us well in the 1B stage and well in the semi final,” explained the Limerick hurling captain ahed of Thurles this Sunday.