Lester Ryan (18 April 1959 – 6 June 2020) was an Irish sportsman from County Kilkenny, who played hurling with his local club Clara and with the Kilkenny intercounty team. Ryan won two All-Ireland Minor Hurling medals, three Leinster Senior Hurling medals and appeared in two All-Ireland finals.
Ryan's nephew, also named Lester, is currently a hurler with Clara and Kilkenny. Along with Harry Ryan, he is an uncle to Tom and Liam Ryan, also playing for Clara.
1 Hurling career
2 Post-playing career
Lester Ryan spent his club career with his local team Clara. He was part of the team that won the county championship in 1986, the club's finest hour to this day. Clara had another good year in 1990, and Ryan was part of the team that made it to the county final, losing out in the end to Glenmore.
Ryan first broke into the intercounty setup as a substitute on the minor team that won the All-Ireland in 1975. Kilkenny went on to contest three finals in a row. Ryan was on the bench again in 1976, in the side that lost the title. However, he put things right in 1977 when he secured a place in the first team and went on to victory that year. Ryan soon forced his way into the senior setup, and collected his first piece of silverware in the NHL final of 1983, as a substitute. 1986 proved to be a great year for Ryan, first winning the county title with his club, then winning his first senior Leinster medal and also taking home a second League title. Things got off to a good start in 1987 with another Leinster win and a place in his first All-Ireland final. However, it was Galway who took the title. Nevertheless, Ryan was playing some good hurling during these years, and won a call up to Leinster team for the Railway Cup of 1988. He added another League title in 1990, before taking another Leinster medal as a substitute in 1991.
After retiring as a player, Ryan went into coaching on a full-time basis. More recently, he was appointed as manager of the Irish shinty team that took on Scotland at Nowlan Park on 18 October 2008.
Ryan died in a traffic collision on 6 June 2020, when his bicycle collided with a tractor.
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