Ryan appalled by coaching standards

Former Limerick manager Tom Ryan has levelled a broadside against the standard of inter-county coaching in hurling.

Ryan, who led Limerick to two Munster titles and All-Ireland finals in the 1990s, said there is too much “gimmickry” associated with the area now and the core values of the game are being ignored.

He claims Brian Cody’s success is down to him being the only current inter-county manager who has stayed true to the traditions of the sport.

The Ballybrown man argues hurling has been over-complicated by “celebrity” managers and county boards have had to pay the price.

“I am very concerned about the standard of coaching,” said Ryan. “It’s the most abused word in hurling language. You only have to look at the quality of games to judge what is happening.

“All this coaching, this talk and psychologists, it’s become a trend. If you haven’t all these things like dieticians and psychologists you’re seen as not being up with the game. Your day is over in other words.

“Compare what we see now on a field to what we saw in the past. There are so many talented hurlers but you see them picking and poking for the ball and bunching. It can be exciting at times but it has the potential to be so much more exciting.

“Hitting the ball on the ground seems to be gone. Gone are the days when Mike Houlihan or Gerald McCarthy would open the shoulders and whip for the ball. Do that now and you could be sent off.”

Ryan continues: “Putting a ball straight between the posts from 30 or 40 yards isn’t a difficult task but you look at the game now and it seems there has to be three or four contacts made, bringing others into play or playing the ball into the corners before a shot is taken. This all comes under the guise of coaching and it’s not right.

“We’ve had some tremendous hurlers down through the years. Con Roche of Cork was unbelievable. He could hit the ball in the blink of an eye and there were dozens like him.

“I don’t remember any sports psychologist back in that time. It’s just bullshit that came in from rugby and soccer, which are totally different games.”

Ryan feels there are current inter-county managers who are not qualified to be in the positions they hold.

“In the FA, you have to get a cert to become a manager. Here you can hang up your inter-county boots and become a coach or manager the following week and continue hurling with your club. It’s become more personality-driven, a form of Celebrity Bainisteoir.”

Ryan says Cody is the best in his field because he hasn’t digressed from the principles of what makes a good hurler.

“Why all managers and coaches can’t just look at his blueprint is beyond me. It’s the one that has worked just fine, hands-on coaching and hard, physical games in training.

“I’ve never heard of a psychologist being involved with Kilkenny. Cody’s the psychologist and his psychology is the day you play poorly is the day you’re dropped and that’s the end of it.

“Clare under [Ger] Loughnane had a successful period because he was an individual in the same mould as Cody.

“Limerick is unique because it’s had a list of f***ed-up management systems and yet the US Olympic team wouldn’t have the facilities they have in UL.

“We’ve had 14 managers or coaches since I left in ’97 and Limerick have lost some great players in that time. Some of them still interact with me and what they would be divulging about how they were coached would shock people.”

He continued: “I don’t think there is a need for all this gimmickry nowadays. It’s coming at massive expense to county boards but no chairman has said stop yet. Getting up to do morning sessions or to be in the gym at 5am — I’d never get a fella out of bed to train. He’d a job to go to, students were encouraged to study.

“We didn’t have a terrible record in those four years I was manager either.

“We had 3,000 or 4,000 people at our training sessions because for 30 or 40 minutes we had full-blown hurling games with a referee and his umpires. Kilkenny have been doing the same all this time, they were the champions this year and who’ll be next year? The same crowd.”

Ryan also despairs at some of the behaviour of inter-county managers on the sidelines in this year’s championship.

“All this play-acting on the sideline and managers running up and down — I got terrible criticism because I wasn’t acting the clown on the sideline.

“Now we have managers fighting with one another and the GAA are doing nothing about it.”

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