by Noel Dundon
The big question on many a Tipperary supporters lips over the course of the summer - ‘Would Ryan O’Dwyer have slotted into the current Tipp side?
It is, as Tipp Manager Declan Ryan put it, “ a hypothetical question.” But, when GAA folk sit around the table, or bar counters, and discuss matters evolving around hurling, it is a topic of conversation which inevitably crops up.
Ryan O’Dwyer, during his Tipp days, was usually described as a man who could keep a good centre back quiet.
Indeed, his raw enthusiasm and appetite for work, seemed to conceal a far deeper talent which went untapped in the blue and gold jersey. Since his transfer to Dublin he has added many elements to his game - scoring being one of the main ones. O’Dwyer is now a potent goal poacher and his pilfering of 3-2 off the Limerick defence earned him many plaudits and much recognition.
Ryan will surely find it strange coming up against the Tipp lads on Sunday - many of whom he hurled with during his time.
His arrival into the fray in Croke Park in the Allianz NHL tie back in February ruffled a few feathers and raised a few eyebrows, but Ryan just got on with the job and did what he does best.
Since then, his star has risen considerably and he is probably odds on to get an Allstar nomination at the end of the season, if not an award.
But, would he make the Tipp team if he were still available?
“He is certainly playing well for Dublin at the minute and he is to be congratulated for the way he has performed all season, but it’s a bit of a hypothetical question. He is obviously a man we will have to watch,” said Tipp Manager Declan Ryan who admitted that O’Dwyer had already moved to Dublin before he had the chance to call him up.
Asked if he would like to be able to call on O’Dwyer he said, “ Absolutely, why not? He is a whole hearted player and we would certainly look at him if he came eligible again.”
Wholehearted he certainly is and while Patrick ‘Bonnar’ Maher, more or less fills the role, O’Dwyer used to in ther Tipp jersey, it is fair to say that the former Cashel man has added a few more strings to his bow since his days as Tipp’s central battering ram.
Tipperary Captain Eoin kelly soldiered with Ryan O’Dwyer in the attack and says that he possessed the intellect of on an inter county player.
“His mindset was definitely inter-county standard, but I suppose that year he had, he made a decision, and he says it himself, that he had given a commitment to go to Boston.
“That probably hampered his chances with Tipp last year, but it’s like anything else, you never know what’s going to happen down the road.
“In the future he might want to come back to Tipp, back to his home club,” Eoin said.
The Tipperary supporters and players have been delighted for Ryan that he has achieved so much with Dublin.
He always gave 100% in the blue and gold jersey and even lined out against Cork while injured - a move which might not have been the smartest, but which signalled his commitment to the Tipp cause. No hard feelings then?
“Ah no, I don’t think so. He made a decision and the decision worked out for him – he has a National League medal now in his pocket where a lot of our lads don’t. Ryan went, it’s worked out for him, he’s a key player for them. He’s playing very well, a player we’ll have to watch,” Eoin offered.
A man who is likely to come up against the red helmetted O’Dwyer at some stage on the positional merry go round, is Tipp defender Padraic Maher.
He has been studying his former teammate at underage level of late and has been impressed with what he has seen. They briefly shared senior status together as well.
Padraic said, “ He is a changed player really and his hurling has improved hugely. He has really shown over the last couple of games and we will be very aware of him on Sunday.”
Yes Tipp will have to be aware of Ryan O’Dwyer - the Cashel rock, who has been polished into something of a Dubs diamond, with the help of a Bannerman.