By Larry Ryan
Michael Ryan wasn’t about to make any big calls about his future from a place of dejection, though he is adamant yesterday’s devastating championship exit will change how Tipperary approach the National Hurling League. And perhaps the ‘club month’ too.
“It’s premature, to be honest,” Ryan said when asked about his intent to carry on in the Tipp management job.
“Any decision that we make on that, we’ll make them in the cold light of day. There’s never any good decisions made immediately after a match, be it a win or a loss.
“The only thing we care about is a very fine bunch of players inside there in that dressing room and the biggest thing, the overall thing, is the health of Tipperary hurling and that’s the only thing that this whole programme is about, the state of Tipperary hurling.
“Are we at the top table, are we up there competing? We’ve been hit by a train, it wasn’t in the plan so I think the test is ours in terms of how we regroup and how we come back and compete with what is now a very different hurling landscape and a landscape where all the teams look to be very competitive.”
Ryan spoke like a man with every intention of stepping on the treadmill again whenever Tipp reconvenes this autumn. He was given a further three-year term as manager last September, though he admits a month when Tipp struggled to recapture old highs has taken its toll.
“Of course it’s been tough. We’re in the business of trying to win matches and keeping the Tipp flag flying and ultimately we didn’t do it and it’s been tough, it’s been long and we’ve no problem with it being tough and long, we just hate going out. But that’s our lot.”
In their fourth championship outing, he insisted Tipperary had finally found the performance he wanted from his players, but that a “superb Clare team” had simply matched them.
Though he was also clear that a month when his team lurched between spells of fluid hurling and longer patches of outright crisis, will cause a reassessment of priorities and likely a downgrading of the hurling league.
“It will be for Tipp, I’ll tell you that. From my perspective, no way can we continue to try and do what we were trying to do and fall in then and dedicate the month of April to three or four competitive games for anyone that’s playing senior hurling and senior football and just expect to turn out four days in a row here. It’s too big of an ask but it’s not the reason why we went out here today, nonetheless. We had performance issues that we didn’t reach but that’s internal stuff.
“For us some of the things that we need to consider in Tipp is the April month and how we manage that.”
“Our path was laid out for us. We had four in a row. It was certainly one of the things that was bothering me, way back when we were deciding how we were going to run our championship.
“These guys are not machines. And yet, it wasn’t really the workload that caught up with them, rather Clare did.
“The best performance came on day four. It’s a difficult one.
“I didn’t see fatigue — if anything I saw the opposite. That was our best performance out of four yet we didn’t get anything out of it. I know the writing was on the wall for us.
“We had to deliver a performance today to have a chance. I don’t think it hurt us today.”
But the hurt was palpable as Ryan disappears from view so much earlier than anybody had envisaged.“Our season finishes in very early June. What do we do for the rest of the year? This is not the script that we have certainly written. C’est la vie.”