Kilkenny captain Lester Ryan has revealed his All-Ireland speech, which garnered attention for being entirely in Irish, was learned off phonetically.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Ryan admitted he was not a fluent speaker. “I wouldn’t be ‘Irish man’ at all,” he said.
“I have a teacher friend in Callan, Brother Damien Rinn, and he helped me out with the Irish words, so I just learned it.
“After we played Limerick I learned it in the first few days after that, and he helped me with it, and I broke it down phonetically and learned it in a few days and then went back to concentrating on winning an All-Ireland final.”
Reflecting on Kilkenny's 35th title, Ryan insisted a belief at the start of each season that the Cats can win an All-Ireland is “set in stone”.
Ryan said Kilkenny’s unsuccessful season last year – beaten by Dublin in the Leinster championship and knocked out of the All-Ireland series by Cork in the quarter-final – had not affected belief within the panel this year.
Ryan said a strong sense of belief and confidence was something passed down from older players to the younger panel members.
“In fairness to the older lads that’s there, they certainly set that in stone, that every year you can do it,” Ryan said.
“Every year you go out to train you can win an All-Ireland, or potentially win an All-Ireland.
“That’s just something, when you get the Kilkenny jersey, and when you’re training with Kilkenny, you realise that is what you’re training for. So, we always had that belief. There were no questions marks over that.”
"I broke it down phonetically and learned it in a few days and then went back to concentrating on winning an All-Ireland final" - Lester Ryan
Reflecting on this year’s finals, Ryan said the big change Kilkenny had tried to bring about between the drawn first final and the replay was to tighten up on Tipperary’s forwards, who had enjoyed great success the first day out.
“I think they only scored half the number of points in the replay than they did in the first match,” he said.
“I suppose that was an awful lot easier said than done [limiting them to this amount], and Tipp have some fantastic forwards there.
“The big aim was: if we could get the defensive things right – and not just the six backs, but even the forwards, just defending and hooking and blocking – we’d have the potential to beat them.”