Limerick have the best super sub in the country 8 months ago

Limerick have the best super sub in the country

But maybe he shouldn't be a sub at all.

Despite it being meant as a compliment, no player wants to be dubbed a super sub. It's the danger of impacting the game from the bench that you might be labelled as such, but in reality, what other option do players have other than to come on to the pitch all guns blazing?

Just ask Kevin McManamon.

Pat Ryan is an excellent hurler. The Doon club man enjoyed a fruitful underage career with the Treaty county, winning an All-Ireland under-21 title in 2015 and playing in a minor final two years previous to that.

He was always a key man on these teams. The giant-striding, fleet-footed midfielder with the socks pulled up to his knees was always a strong runner with the ball. A skilful hurler too, that keen eye for a score was always there.

Versatility is one of his greatest traits. A midfield roamer by nature, he's a threat up front too and wouldn't look too far out of place in defence. Versatility is a good thing, but Jesus, often it can hold a player back because they're so hard to pin down.

At the moment, the rangy runner who always looks to have the beating of his man is being used by John Kiely from the bench.

And it must be bloody frustrating for him. The man hasn't put a foot wrong. Every time he's been called upon, he's come in like a man hell bent on proving a point to his manager not to leave him sitting again.

Ryan is making an impact every single time he gets the call and his late, great interventions have been so crucial to Limerick's slick progression to the League semi-final and their first promotion to the top tier of the hurling League in nine years.

His scoring returns after being introduced late on have been heavy. The value of his energy and willingness can't be overstated enough.

On Monday against Clare, he came on and netted an extra-time forcing goal in late on for the Shannonsiders. That wasn't the first time his arrival has changed games.

  • Crucial point against Galway from the bench in the promotion sealer.
  • Point against Dublin from the bench.

Last year, he was just as effective in the same role, doing it on the biggest stage in the championship.

  • Point off the bench against Kilkenny in Championship last year.
  • Point off the bench against Clare in Munster Championship last year.

Even for UL's Fitzgibbon Cup campaign this year, manager Gary Kirby didn't start him. Why would he when Ryan turned the semi-final and final in their favour with crucial, last gasp goals?

  • Goal in Fitzgibbon Cup final against DCU off the bench.
  • Goal in Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final against IT Carlow off the bench.

It's hard to blame Kiely, either. He has a wealth of options at his disposal now. A host of fresh, young talents from the 2017 and 2015 All-Ireland winning teams. There are survivors from the 2013 Munster champions.

Ryan will never sulk. He'll always have a bit of cut about him when introduced, Kiely knows he's a weapon.

As for Ryan, if he didn't perform, he more than likely wouldn't force his way into the team. Damned if you do, damned if you don't you might say but maybe he just has to keep knocking on the door until he finally beats it down.

He has plenty of time to do that.