Irish Examiner view: Éamonn Ryan defied expectations

Legend of the game brought so much of himself to an unparalleled career.
Irish Examiner view: Éamonn Ryan defied expectations

Former Cork ladies football manager Éamonn Ryan. Achieved so much with an excellent group of women.  Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE

Some careers, some individuals defy capture or comparison. When those careers are gilded by an indefinable charisma, by exceptional communication skills, and an inspirational, empowering message  — "you will, we will" — and real human warmth they are almost beyond definition. They can in some inadequate way be measured by reckoning the list of honours achieved but that only tells the obvious part of the story. The tip of the iceberg.  

Éamonn Ryan, who has died aged 79 after a long illness, enjoyed such a career. He led Cork Ladies footballers to nine of the last 10 All Ireland titles. He not only transformed cork's fortunes but transformed ladies' football as a whole. Before those more than remarkable achievements, he was the guiding light behind myriad GAA success stories. He was also a man before his time and selflessly used his position and energy to promote women's sports when they did not have the respect they have today. He inspired the kind of respect, and self-respect too, only natural leaders can.

He, to the very end, defied expectations as he was a prophet recognised in his own land.

May he rest in peace   


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