Goalkeeper Ryan joins Kilkenny exodus

GOALKEEPER PJ Ryan last night became the third Kilkenny star to retire from intercounty hurling in recent weeks.

Ryan joined the squad in 2002 and won seven senior All-Irelands, nine Leinster championships and five National Leagues during a distinguished career. But the Fenians, Johnstown club man has joined James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick (Ballyhale Shamrocks) and Eddie Brennan (Graigue-Ballycallan) in leaving the senior panel.

Ryan admitted: “I leave with no regrets. I arrived with nothing but hope, and I left with a pocketful of medals. I was blessed to be part of Kilkenny hurling during a golden era.”

His career highlight came in the 2009 All-Ireland final against Tipperary when he produced a series of dazzling saves in Kilkenny’s 2-22 to 0-23 victory. Ryan collected the man of the match accolade and was subsequently named on the All Star team.

“We wouldn’t have won that final without that inspired showing from PJ,” Kilkenny secretary Ned Quinn recalled. “His loyalty to Kilkenny was of the highest order. It took him a while to get into the team, but after he got in and did his bit, including being the one who made the difference in that 2009 final, he stayed on in the squad to make sure the county was well covered for goalkeepers.”

Ryan followed in the footsteps of his dad, PJ who won three All-Irelands as sub goalie to the great Noel Skehan in 1974, 1975 and 1979.

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