A COMEDIAN from Castleconnell has told Declan Hannon and Cian Lynch to get back to the dressing room as he’s picked for the starting line-out in a film about Limerick’s favourite sporting pastime, opening today in Irish cinemas.
Local funnyman Stephen Ryan is set to put one over the bar in Tony Kelly’s ‘The Hurler: A Campion’s Tale’. The film tells the story of Gar Campion, a disgraced star hurler who attempts to claw his way back up the GAA ranks and redeem his reputation by coaching the country’s worst hurling team.
The cast is a who’s who of Irish comedy, with Stephen starring alongside the likes of Mario Rosenstock, Dave McSavage, and Limerick laughter legends Jon Kenny and Karl Spain.
“It’s fantastic to be in something with such an amazing cast,” says Stephen. “I grew up watching D’Unbelievables, so being able to be in something with Jon Kenny is incredible.”
“I’ve worked with Karl a lot and was very fortunate to have been able to support him on some dates of his tour recently. Karl plays a guard in the film, and I will say he has some of the funniest moments in it.”
‘A terrible hurler’
And while working his funnybone was job number one on set, Stephen, a former hurler and footballer himself with Ahane, says his experience on the pitch was just as important in playing the role.
“I hurled and played football with Ahane for years. I was very fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to play alongside giants of the game including the Morans and the Morrisseys. Coming from a hurling background, I think it gives me an extra little thrill to be part of bringing the sport to the big screen.
“Playing a terrible hurler in this film might give me the excuse of having been method acting in the last years of my hurling career,” he quipped.
Despite this being the first time The Hurler will make its debut on the silver screen, the story – written and directed by Waterford’s Tony Kelly, who also stars in the film – has already played the field in several other iterations. And Stephen has been called up from the bench in a number of them.
“I’ve known Tony for about a decade,” Stephen explains. “I first met him through the comedy scene. He did a web series on The Hurler previously and I played a different role in an episode of that.”
“It’s amazing to see the progression of the character that Tony plays, Gar Campion, as he’s been presented in various iterations, both in the web series and in a stage play which was unfortunately cut short due to Covid. Fortunately for me, it was developed into the film that is out now.”
Stephen has travelled far and wide in his comedy career to date, performing at clubs and festivals in Ireland and the UK, as well as tickling audience’s ribs across Europe, the US, and Asia.
Closer to home, he’s currently gearing up for a two-man show with local favourite Karl Spain for a comedic retelling of the history of Limerick, which will be performed this coming Thursday (October 12) at the Hunt Museum.
No film about hurling would be complete without an appearance from pundit Marty Morrissey, who brings the Marty party to the big screen for the first time. Though despite appearing in the film with the legendary GAA pundit, Stephen says he didn’t actually get to meet him until the film’s premiere in Dublin.
“It’s quite amazing, I’ve met many actors and comedians but, in terms of being a star, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone quite so high in the stratosphere as Marty,” he says.
“After the premiere he was kind enough to drop some of us back into Dublin town and, while we were waiting at the lights, one of his fans spotted him and banged on the car window. Despite catching us unaware and frightening the life out of us, Marty was cool as a breeze and let down the window to greet her.”
The Hurler opens in Irish cinemas today, with Limerick screenings to be shown at the Odeon in Castletroy.