Ryan was Donegal's top scorer in the 1992 Ulster Championship. He made his championship debut against Armagh in 1988. He won two trench cups with Sligo. He won an Ulster Minor Championship in 1985, an Ulster and All-Ireland Medal with the U-21s in 1987, and a Senior Ulster and an All-Ireland Championship Medal in 1992.
Born in Termon, Donegal, he still lives there today. After retiring as a player he remained active in Gaelic games, managing Termon to only their second ever county final in the process. In 2011, he was fined over not having a license for his public house.
Ryan was an agent for Etic Solutions who were said to have "operated in a fraudulent manner akin to a Ponzi scheme"although it was never suggested that Ryan had acted dishonestly.
In 2014 he was disqualified from driving for four years for refusing to provide a breath test when his car was stopped by the police.