Bobby Ryan (hurler)

Bobby Ryan
Personal information
Irish name Roibeard Ó Riain
Sport Hurling
Position Half-back
Born (1961-10-23) 23 October 1961
Borrisoleigh, County Tipperary
Years Club
1970s–1990s Borris-Ileigh
Club titles
Tipperary titles 3
Munster titles 1
All-Ireland Titles 1
Years County Apps (scores)
1982–1993 Tipperary 37 (1–5)
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 5
All-Irelands 2
All Stars 3

Bobby Ryan (born 23 October 1961 in Borrisoleigh, County Tipperary) is a retired Irish sportsperson. He played hurling with his local club Borris-Ileigh and with the Tipperary senior inter-county team from 1981 and 1993. Ryan captained Tipperary to the All-Ireland title in 1989.


Bobby Ryan was born in Borrisoleigh, County Tipperary in 1961. He was born into an area and into a family that were both steeped in hurling glory. Both his father, Tim Ryan, and his uncle, Ned Ryan, won All-Ireland medals with Tipperary in 1951. His maternal uncle, Pat Stakelum, captained Tipp to All-Ireland victory over Laois in 1949. Ryan was educated at the local national school before later attending Templemore CBS. It was here that he first tasted hurling success when he won a Dr. Harty Cup medal with the school in 1978. This was later converted into an All-Ireland colleges' title following a victory over St. Peter's of Wexford.[1]

Playing career


Ryan played his club hurling with his local Borris-Ileigh club and enjoyed much success. In 1981 he was still eligible for the minor grade when he captured his first county title at senior level following a victory over reigning champions Roscrea. Two years later in 1983 Ryan added a second county medal to his collection following a victory over Loughmore-Castleiney. After two seasons out of the limelight Borris-Ileigh captured a third county victory in 1986. The club later represented Tipp in the provincial club championship and reached the final of that competition. Clarecastle fell in that game, giving Ryan a coveted Munster club title.[2] Borris-Ileigh later reached the All-Ireland club final where Rathnure of Wexford provided the opposition. Philip Kenny and Aidan Ryan's first-half goals helped Borris-Ileigh to a 2–9 to 0–9 victory.[3] This win gave Ryan a coveted All-Ireland club winners' medal.

Minor and under-21

Ryan's talent as a hurler was quickly spotted by the Tipperary inter-county selectors and he joined the minor panel in the late 1970s. He had little success in this grade; however, he won a Munster title at under-21 level in 1980. Ryan later lined out in the All-Ireland final, with Kilkenny providing the opposition. A final score of 2–9 to 0–14 gave Tipp a slim victory and gave Ryan an All-Ireland medal at under-21 level.[4] In 1981 he added a second consecutive Munster under-21 title to his collection before later lining out in a second consecutive All-Ireland medal. Kilkenny were the opponents once again, however, Tipp claimed a more comprehensive 2–16 to 1–10 win.[5] It was Ryan's second consecutive All-Ireland under-21 medal.


One year after these All-Ireland under-21 victories Ryan made his debut on the Tipperary's senior hurling team.[6] The county's hurling fortunes were in the doldrums at this time, as arch-rivals Cork were the king-pins of Munster hurling.

In 1984 Ryan was appointed captain of the Tipperary senior hurling team. It was the centenary year of the Gaelic Athletic Association and every team was hoping for success. That year Tipp reached their first Munster final since 1973, with the game against Cork turned out to be a thriller. Unfortunately, Ryan had to retire from the game early when he suffered a broken leg when Cork's Tim Crowley fell on him.[7] With four minutes to go in the game Tipp were leading by four points and looked set for victory. Seánie O'Leary and Tony O'Sullivan, however, scored two quick goals to clinch victory for Cork. These goals ended Tipp's involvement in the centenary championship.[8]

In 1986 Tipp were eliminated from the provincial championship at the first hurdle, however, in spite of this Ryan's hurling skills were honoured when he collected his first All-Star award. His involvement in an All-Star trip to the United States in May 1987 cost him his place on the Tipperary team, as new manager Babs Keating advised him not to go.[9] Ryan quickly regained his place on the team and returned at full-forward. It proved to be a successful year for Tipp as the county won its first Munster title in sixteen years following a dramatic draw and a replay with Cork in FitzGerald Stadium, Killarney .[10] In the subsequent All-Ireland semi-final Galway put an end to Tipp's dream season with a 3–20 to 2–17 defeat.

1988 began well for Ryan as he added a National Hurling League medal to his collection. He later captured his second Munster medal following another victory over Cork. A subsequent defeat of Antrim allowed Tipp to advance to the All-Ireland final where Galway provided the opposition. With an extra year's experience it was expected that Tipp might shade the victory. Galway, however, used this to motivate themselves. Noel Lane scored the crucial goal for Galway while Nicky English sent a late penalty over the bar for a point. A 1–15 to 0–14 score line resulted in victory for Galway and defeat for Ryan.[11]

In 1989 Ryan was appointed captain of his county for a second time. Tipperary were still the best team in Munster and Ryan won his third provincial title in-a-row after a 0–26 to 2–8 trouncing of Waterford. For the third time in as many years Tipp faced Galway in the All-Ireland series, however, on this occasion the men from the West were without their star player Tony Keady. The game turned out to be a tense and unsavory affair as Tipp finally triumphed over Galway. Antrim, the surprise winners of the other semi-final, provided the opposition in the subsequent All-Ireland final. It was an historic occasion as it was only the second appearance of an Ulster team in the championship decider. Antrim's relative inexperience robbed the final of any real element of contest and Tipp romped home to a 4–24 to 3–9 win.[12] Because of this Tipp preserved their record of being the only team to win an All-Ireland title in every decade in GAA history. It was Ryan's first senior All-Ireland medal. He finished off the year by winning a third All-Star award.

In 1990 Tipperary surrendered their Munster crown to Cork for the first time in four years. This defeat followed Babs Keating's infamous remark about Cork that 'donkeys don't win derbies'.[13]

Tipp returned in 1991 and defeated Cork in a thrilling Munster final replay giving Ryan his fourth provincial medal. The subsequent All-Ireland final saw Tipp take on Kilkenny for the first time in twenty years. A freak goal by Michael Cleary in the first-half gave Tipp a lead which they never surrendered. A 1–16 to 0–15 victory allowed Ryan to capture his second All-Ireland medal in three years.[14]

1992 saw Tipp exit the championship at an early stage, however, the team bounced back for one last hurrah in 1993. That year Ryan added a fifth Munster medal to his collection as Tipp trounced Clare by 3–27 to 2–12. The subsequent All-Ireland semi-final saw Tipp renew their rivalry with Galway; however, on this occasion Galway took the spoils. This defeat brought the curtain down on Tipp's great revival while also being an end to Ryan's inter-county career.[15]


Ryan also lined out with Munster in the inter-provincial hurling championship where he played alongside his championship rivals from other Munster hurling counties. He first played for his province in 1984 as Munster defeated Leinster to take the Railway Cup title. It was the first of back-to-back Railway Cup titles for Ryan and for Munster. It would be 1992 before he added a third and final Railway Cup medal to his collection.[16]






  1. Fullam, Brendan (2002). Captains of the Ash. Wolfhound Press. p. 32.
  2. Des, Donegan (2005). The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games. DBA Publications. p. 101.
  3. Corry, Eoghan (2005). The GAA Book of Lists. Hodder Headline Ireland. p. 432.
  4. The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 42
  5. The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games p. 42
  6. "Tipperary Hurling Teams 1980–1989". Retrieved 27 October 2008.
  7. Captains of the Ash p. 34
  8. The GAA Book of Lists p. 8
  9. Captains of the Ash p. 33
  10. Sweeney, Éamonn (2002). Munster Hurling Legends. The O'Brien Press. pp. 122–123.
  11. The GAA Book of Lists p. 362
  12. The GAA Book of Lists p. 363
  13. Munster Hurling Legends p. 130
  14. The GAA Book of Lists p. 363
  15. "Tipperary Hurling Teams 1990–1999". Retrieved 27 October 2008.
  16. "Munster Railway Cup Hurling Teams". Munster GAA. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Liam Bergin
Tipperary Senior Hurling Captain
Succeeded by
Jack Bergin
Preceded by
Nicky English
Tipperary Senior Hurling Captain
Succeeded by
Declan Ryan
Preceded by
Conor Hayes
All-Ireland Senior Hurling
winning captain

Succeeded by
Tomás Mulcahy


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