Cork's ten-time All-Ireland-winning footballer Valerie Mulcahy has paid tribute to the late Eamonn Ryan, describing her former manager as "humble", "a people person", and "a real genius".

Ryan passed away on Thursday, with the GAA community united in its huge respect for the Glenville/Watergrasshill man. 

He took over Cork's ladies footballers in 2004 and led them to their first All-Ireland title the next year. They went on an incredible run which brought them nine more titles over the next 10 seasons.

Mulcahy, who soldiered under Ryan throughout that remarkable period, told RTÉ's Game On he was a special talent. 

"It's like losing a family member," she said. 

"I know a lot of people have referred to him as being like a father figure to us, or a grandfather figure. It certainly feels like a huge loss.

"We had amazing times, and that's what's lovely. We'll have a chance to look back on lovely memories. We managed to create a lot over his 12-year reign. That's always going to be with us thankfully. No one can take that away.

"Anyone who was in his presence and got to play with him would value his input immediately."

"He obviously was a huge impact on all of us, and not just as athletes - as people. He was a man of great character and integrity, a very humble man. If anyone met him you wouldn't think he had such an IQ, such emotional intelligence.

"He had such a way with words. He was so easy to listen to. His pre-match chats and half-time talks were a great thing to behold. He had a lovely way about him.

"Eamonn was never pontificating or lecturing us, but he always had a nice way of telling stories, referring to others and giving us the message that way. He was a real genius in many ways, a great coach and person that we're all very fortunate to have had the pleasure of working with."

Mulcahy shared countless highs and lows with Ryan, who she says always managed to keep things in perspective. In victory or defeat, the manager never lost sight of the important things in life. 

"He always put us first. It was amazing to be part of it.

"He was a people person. I think we kept him young - he loved being surrounded by young people. Some of the best managers are often teachers; he was a primary school teacher and was able to get to the kids' level.

"It's hard to describe him. Anyone who was in his presence and got to play with him would value his input immediately.

"My own relationship with him was a very positive one. I would always have sought his advice, ask him how I could improve things. 

"I think he just had really good values and he stayed true to them. 

"He'll be sadly missed."