All-Ireland Final days, the stuff dreams are made of, for Laurie Ryan a recurring vision will come to life as she leads Clare onto the turf in Croke Park for the Ladies Football Intermediate decider.
Laurie is appreciative of the honour that goes with captaining your County on All-Ireland Final day and she is embracing the fact that she will lead Clare into battle on the fourth weekend in September. “It’s surreal to think that I’m going to be doing that, at the start of the year it’s what you dream of doing but you’re only hoping it will come through, it’s an honour and a privilege and I just can’t wait to get out there and play the match”.
Before the throw-in Ryan will have to try win the toss to see which way Clare will play. She gives an insight into her technique in preparing for this moment. “I usually just guess or let them guess and hope they get it wrong but I’d always try whatever I think is right on the day but I’d usually let them go first” she told The Clare Herald.
This year has seen younger players such as Ciara Hickey, Grainne Nolan and Laura Egan really step up to the mark at inter-county level. The greater responsibility taken on by the younger girls is a big plus according to Laurie. “It’s brilliant to see, there’s so many new players coming into the panel and this year especially we have a big influx of young girls and it’s brilliant for the County and it’s just a message to younger girls that if they stick with it there’s an opportunity there for them”.
Positioned at full-back, the Banner Ladies club-woman has been rock solid all year, she’s been helped by having a reliable goalkeeper behind her whether it’s Emma O’Driscoll or Ciara Harvey. Both netminders have been grateful to the captain whose voice projection has ensured they don’t have to exercise their vocal chords as much.
“She’s lucky I’d be roaring at the top of my voice, I was training a team the other day and I said if they ever saw me playing they’d hear me before they see me, ah no it’s great I’m so used to playing with Emma at this stage, we’ve a great understanding at this stage and it was the same with Ciara, we had built a great bond throughout the year when that happens.
“Emma was injured throughout the year and we were worried if anything happened to Ciara what would we do but it was just lucky timing on Emma’s behalf that she’s just back from a really bad injury and poor Ciara now it’s such an awful time of the year to be picking up an injury and in a club game it’s a killer but we are lucky that we have two top class goalies in the one panel and such a small panel” she added.
In Clare’s panel of twenty one girls there are eight from the Banner club. There is no division or greater bond between clubmates according to Ryan who believes the bond this year on the panel is as strong as it has ever been. It’s great there is a good crowd of us from the Banner but at the end of the day when we come here we’re all one team and that’s something we’ve worked on all year and there’s such a close bond this year between the team it’s really helped us get through matches especially the last five minutes against Tipperary everyone was willing to do anything for each other.”
Sixty minutes separate Laurie from walking up the Hogan steps to lift aloft the All-Ireland Intermediate title. While her main aim is obviously to win she’s still looking at the bigger picture and what a victory would mean for Ladies Football in Clare. “Personally it would be brilliant but at the end of the day it’s for the team and I think if it was to happen and we were to come out with a victory it would just show that hard work does pay off and the work put in this year has definitely shown and it would be a great boost for the underage to look on to because the results in the past haven’t been anything that would make you want to go and play for your County”.