Apart from the pre-season Munster SHL, the clash in Salthill is Cork’s first competitive game since losing to Galway in last July’s All-Ireland hurling qualifier, the 10-point loss being Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s last game in charge.
Ryan is part of his replacement Kieran Kingston’s set-up and believes the presence of a new managerial team means a clean slate. “We haven’t spoken about as a management and I haven’t heard any of the players mention it,” he says.
“A league game in Salthill in February is a lot different from a championship game in Thurles in the summer, so I’m not sure you can really compare the two.
“We’re a new management team and Galway are the same, so it’s more of a fresh start all-round than anything else.
“Things have been going well. Frank Flannery is with us full-time now as coach, though to be fair he hadn’t missed any sessions anyway.
“We’ve been flat out on the go, the first part of the year was working on strength and conditioning, with the way the weather was it was the only real option anyway.
“As that improves, hopefully we’ll be able to work more on the hurling and get up to speed.”
Cork go into the game without injured quartet Conor O’Sullivan, Mark Ellis, Killian Burke and Colm Spillane, while William Leahy and Paul Haughney are doubts.
“None of them will be out for too long, they’re all a matter of weeks,” Ryan says.
“Mark might miss the Waterford game too, but it’s nothing too serious. They’re all defensive players but we knew about Colm and Killian with a while so we were prepared.
“We’re working from a squad of 30,” he says, “and then there’s another group of players whose development is monitored, they’re working on programmes we’ve given them.
“It’s a help as well that there have been changes to the Cork intermediate panel, it’s effectively an U25 reserve squad as the restrictions about playing senior have been removed.
“It’s an opportunity for senior club players to get on our radar and we have a good relationship with the intermediate manager Ronan Dwane. It’s the same with the minor and U21s too, we’re liaising with them as well so there’s a good understanding.”
As regards what Cork want from the league, Ryan is keen to see progress.
“Straightaway, you’re looking to build a team for the championship, that’s the main priority,” he says.
“When you build confidence, you win more games and relegation looks after itself. We certainly haven’t been talking about it, the aim is to get into the quarter-finals and work from there.
“We’re playing early in the championship so it’d be handy to get an extra game in April.”