Tommy Ryan has started all Waterford’s games in 2019 and has been in top form. Photo: Inpho.
NHL DIVISION 1B: LAOIS V WATERFORD: REACTION – THOMAS RYAN
The number thirteen shirt suits Thomas Ryan.
Since his return to inter county hurling in 2016, he has been confined to the role of impact player, super sub, finisher. With injuries, withdrawals and absentees diminishing Waterford’s forward options for this Division 1B campaign, a starting berth is up for grabs and the Tallow talisman wants one.
He was relieved to see the back of the net rattle in the 33rd minute on Sunday. His first league goal of 2019 was overdue. “Fellas were on to me during the week about all the chances I missed last week, a few lads messing and that. Eventually, I got one today.”
The second was all his own work, soloing in from the right touchline with the sliotar glued to his stick before firing under Enda Rowland. “I was coming in the end line with the ball on the hurley and I had a look up. Their two defenders thought I was going to hand pass it across and they dived in. It just opened up and I was one on one then!”
After a 27 point win the previous Sunday, Paraic Fanning delivered a straightforward message ahead of another match that Waterford were expected to win comfortably. “Just to keep the work rate and the intensity up more than anything, not to let it die at any stage. Not to take any team for granted any day, you come out at full tilt and try and go at them from the start.”
‘WORKING HARD TO GET A JERSEY’
Ryan is in a rich vein of form for club and county at present. Over the past twelve months, he has scored seven goals in all competitions for Waterford including three in last year’s Munster championship. He earned his first championship start in six years against Cork and took it with both hands, shooting 1-3 including a goal of the year contender past Anthony Nash. The corner man has made the cut in all four competitive matches under Fanning’s watch so far. “With injuries and players to come back, it’s a chance for everyone. Paraic said at the start of the year ‘get your chance, go as hard as you can and try and get a jersey for yourself and hold onto it for as long as you can’. Everyone is in the same boat. We’re all working really hard to try and get a jersey.”
The 29 year old has been on and off the Waterford panel since 2009. Corner forwards cover a lot more ground now compared to when he started out. “You’re working from the front all the way back. A huge amount of work goes into every game. There’s no such thing as getting a score and waiting for the next ball to come in. You’re tackling, hooking and blocking the whole time.”
Ryan wasn’t the only Tallow representative on the field as Jordan Henley got his first league start. “Jordan is a great lad. He works really hard. He’s down to earth, he keeps his feet on the ground. It’s great to see him get game time.”