Tribute to Eamonn Ryan   14/01/2021

Watergrasshill GAA wish to extend our deepest sympathies to Pat and the Ryan family on the sad passing of Eamonn Ryan, our esteemed Vice-President and our greatest ever player.
Born in 1941, Eamonn played with Sarsfields and Glanmire at under-age when Watergrasshill had no juvenile teams. He also played gaelic games with Cork colleges at North Monastary and Colaiste Iosagain, Ballyvourney.
In 1961, hurling and football in our parish was restructured where Watergrasshill represented the parish in hurling and Glenville in football and Eamonn was highly regarded in both codes. In 1963 he played football for both Cork juniors and seniors and in 1966 at 25, he was a key player on the Cork senior football team that defeated Kerry for the first time since 1957.
He played Railway Cup for Munster in 1966 and 1967 and won two Sigerson Cups with UCC in 1966 and 1967. He captained the College in the 1967 Cork senior football final and replay where Beara claimed the title.
Before Eamonn’s 16th birthday, he was junior hurling goalkeeper for Watergrasshill in the East Cork B final in 1961. In 1968, Watergrasshill won the title with Eamon as captain and coach. In 1974, as a player and trainer, Eamon Ryan played a key role when Watergrasshill won our first ever East Cork Junior A hurling championship and the Cork county junior hurling title.

As a coach he won divisional B junior hurling titles in 1997/99 and 2001. Eamonn also trained the team when Watergrasshill won our second East Cork junior A title in 2000 and he was also trainer of the Watergrasshill premier intermediate team who were beaten in the 2007 county final.
Following the amalgamation with Glenville in 1961, Eamon Ryan was a key player in the Glenville team that won the East Cork Junior A Football Championship in 1961. As a player and trainer, he added four more East Cork football titles with Glenville in 1972/73/78 and ’79. He was also captain in 1978. Two divisional football league medals were also won in 1972 and ’73 and he played with the Imokilly senior football teams in the 1960’s and ‘70s.
In the mid 80’s Eamon entered teams in the Sciath na Scol competitions and up to his retirement from teaching, he won many titles, the highlight when Watergrasshill National School claiming outright honours in Sciath na Scol in both hurling and football in both 1991 and 1992.

In camogie with Watergasshill, he coached and claimed minor, junior and intermediate championships and senior club championship and league titles. At Na Piarsaigh, he won the county senior hurling title in 1990 as coach and again in 1995.When Ballingeary claimed a county intermediate football title in 2006, Eamon was again making an impact on the side-line.

Eamonn claimed a Munster senior football title as Cork manager in 1983 and from 1990 to 1994 he was coach to Cork minor football teams who won 3 Munster titles and 2 All Irelands.
As Manager of the Cork Ladies Football team, he achieved incredible success and became a national name. From 2004 to 2015, he coached the Cork Ladies Football team to an incredible 10 All Ireland senior championship titles and 6 National League titles.

Watergrasshill Club Chairman, Kieran O’Keeffe, said Eamonn was a hero in the club and community. ”He achieved so much and was interested in the club and the state of hurling in Watergrasshill right to the end. He put the first hurley in so many children’s hands in school and fostered a love of the game. We are indebted to him for his time, interest and skill that he shared so willingly with so many of us. Many of our club members were introduced to hurling through Eamonn. I was privileged to be taught by him as was my father. He had a unique way of engaging with young people and getting their attention. He is fondly remembered and will be sadly missed”
Juvenile Club Chairman, Barry Joyce said “before I came to Watergrasshill, I knew about Eamonn Ryan. Since I came to Watergrasshill, I got to know more about him, his success on the pitch and as a mentor. Having met him many times, I was hugely impressed by his humility, his interest and grá for our club. He was man who wore his achievements lightly, a true Gael and one of the finest men to come out of Watergrasshill – a gentleman in the true sense of the word”
Covid-19 restrictions and regulations deprive the Ryan family of the show of respect that Eamonn deserves. We hold the family in our thoughts and prayers and remember one of the greatest teachers, players and coaches that our parish has ever known.
In school he was known as The Master – a description fitting to the man, teacher, player and coach in all parts of his life.


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