The current Westmeath boss resigned from his native county in August 2013 after losing the support of the players to lead them into a third season.
The tactics of Ryan’s successor Derek McGrath have been praised in the wake of Sunday’s Division 1 final win over Cork.
However, Ryan argued the players deserve most of the plaudits and he left McGrath a strong legacy.
“I think there’s tremendous potential in that team.
“When the Titanic left Belfast, it was in a good place and when I left Waterford hurling, it was in a good place as well.
“I’m not surprised. I love their enthusiasm, their zest for the game. I think they’ll beat a lot of teams.”
Discussing their style of play, Ryan said: “Clare did the same thing a couple of years ago. The problem with the system is, the more teams play against a system, the more likely they are to find a solution.
“I think it’s too simple to say the system is winning the game - the players are winning the games.”
Ryan had two reasons to be cheerful last Sunday with both Waterford and his Westmeath side claiming victories. A win over Antrim this weekend and the Lake County will be poised to qualify for a Leinster quarter-final.
He can see Waterford replicating their unbeaten league form in the championship. “You look at Clare two years ago. Waterford, I think, are in the same position.
They play the same type of good game. I don’t think there’s any really outstanding team out there at the moment. That may change. I think the championship is wide open. I think you could well see Waterford and Clare in a Munster final, that wouldn’t surprise me.”
Meanwhile, the GPA and WGPA yesterday announced their support for a yes vote in the marriage referendum on May 22. They also confirmed they will be involved in the YesEquality campaign in the run-up to the vote.
Following consultation with the GPA’s national executive and membership, players were provided with information on the referendum in February before they were canvassed on their opinion regarding a public stance last week.
By a ratio of six to one, the GPA backed the proposal to publicly advocate a change to the Constitution.
Commenting on the GPA’s decision chief executive Dessie Farrell said: “The decision to support the YesEquality Campaign was very much directed by the GPA membership who provided a powerful mandate for action.
“Of course there are differing views within the playing body as there are in society in general but we believe that by endorsing the Yes campaign we are providing active representation for our players while also acting in accordance with our principles as an organisation.”
The GPA felt “the issue of marriage equality was of serious importance to an organisation representing young athletes and thus required action on its part”.
A total of 97% of the WGPA membership were in favour. “The WGPA is committed to achieving equality for women in sport and in this instance, is keen to support marriage equality for women and men,” said chair Aoife Lane.