By Colm O'Connor
So how does a Nenagh Éire Óg sliotar end up in Donnacha Ryan's right hand before Racing’s Champions Cup quarter-final win over Clermont Auvergne on Sunday?
The Tipperary club’s chairman Enda Costello was more than happy to provide the answer.
Costello explained: “Donnacha’s early background was in hurling here in Nenagh.
“His father Matty, a Limerick man, hurled with us for years so it was no surprise that Donnacha’s first love was hurling.
“He played all the way up along at underage and then he turned his attention to rugby.”
GAA took a backseat when Ryan was plying his trade with Munster - but he found time to return to his roots last year.
“He always wanted to come back hurling,” Costello explained. “Last summer, before he went to Paris, he did a few training sessions with our seniors during the summer. He loved it and really got stuck in. He was actually mad to play in a challenge game but it never happened.
“Donnacha is a fabulous guy with no airs and graces. He really enjoyed the craic with the lads.”
And back to the opening question - how did a little piece of Tipperary GAA find its way to the Stade Marcel Michelin at the weekend.
“When he was leaving for France the boys presented him with a few hurleys and sliotars which had the club logo stamped on them. And he was delighted with the gesture.”
And when Ryan hangs up the rugby boots for good, Costello will be first on the phone to him with an offer.
“He’d be a great man to stick in at full forward some evening …..”