‘You’d go to war for John Meyler’s type of passion’

Diarmuid Lyng owes John Meyler an apology.

‘You’d go to war for John Meyler’s type of passion’

He openly admits to being one of the ringleaders in the panel that convinced the Wexford County Board to oust Meyler as senior manager 10 years ago. He was one of the four who a scorned Meyler lashed out at following his departure.

“‘I am not that disappointed (to be sacked) because I now know why they will never beat Kilkenny,” said Meyler at the time.

“The four players refused to identify themselves, refused to stand up, refused to meet me face-to-face. Now I know why they’ll never beat Kilkenny, but it’s two years too late.”

Truth be told, Lyng was one of a quartet who were representing the majority view of the panel. “I found with Wexford over the years is that people will be very strong in dressing rooms and talking before managers come in and media get their hands on you.

“Then when it comes to the crunch there are always a few fall guys and at the time I felt the four were held up as if it was our wish alone but we were the four put forward to communicate the panel as a whole were in favour of John going.”

The first half of Meyler’s two-year tenure was full of promise and vigour. Only Kilkenny beat them (twice) in that year’s All-Ireland championship, in the Leinster final and All-Ireland semi-final. The Cats had knocked them out of the league too. Galway and Tipperary had been put to the sword.

The passion of the manager was infectious and the players couldn’t say enough about Podge Murphy, the weights trainer he brought in.

But then Murphy was jettisoned for 2008 and the sense among the players was things were disintegrating.

“John is a force of nature, an absolute whirlwind of a man and I would have done anything for him — I thought he was great. But then he let Podge go.

“I couldn’t understand how we lost Podge Murphy and there wasn’t the same structure the following year or the same solidity.

“A lot of the fellas — Rory Jacob, Keith Rossiter, David Redmond, Eoin Quigley, myself, Doc O’Connor — were in their late 20s and it was like ‘are we going to get ’07 John Meyler or ’08 John Meyler?’”

Lyng holds his hand up that the coup was a mistake, one that would echo in the following seasons.

“In the end, he was proven right because when you get rid of a manager, as the current Galway crop will tell you, you have to show your true colours in the following two to three years and we showed ours, bottoming out and we got worse.

“It was actually a disservice and a poor call. If I have one regret in my career it’s going against keeping John that year. I genuinely feel that I owe him an apology.”

“Passion and chaos” is how Lyng sums up those two seasons. The emotional interview Meyler gave as Cork U21 manager to TG4 after last year’s stirring Munster semi-final win over Waterford served as a reminder to Lyng how much of a mistake he and others made in plotting his downfall.

“I remembered just the great f***ing spirit of the man and you’d go to war for that type of passion any time of the week. Colm Bonnar replaced him and he would have come from a very different school and I would be much closer to the John Meyler school of hurling definitely.”

After their surprisingly excellent championship run last year, Lyng wonders how Cork will take to their new manager’s teaching style.

“As a Wexford man, I would be glad to see the man who presided over last season not staying on. Kieran Kingston was obviously instrumental last year so John is up against it from that point of view.

“John is a strong man and a very strong character and strong characters in the world today aren’t received very well because people are maybe a little bit softer and adverse to the old school way. I mean that from a personality standpoint as opposed to training — I don’t mean old school in a derogatory sense at all.”

Lyng knows Meyler will lock horns any players with ideas about themselves following last season’s Munster SHC success. “I would have fears as well because maybe players can be a bit confident and John won’t entertain that. If you go against that, if you’re going against the manager that’s not going to go that well. I hope he doesn’t change, I hope he still has that toughness because we need more of that in the game and we need to move away from being a little bit too pampered.

“I don’t think John’s strong point is tactics; I think his strong point is the passion and the force he will bring as a person. What often happens when you meet such a powerful force is you either want to go with him or against him and if they go with him mixed with what they got out of last year under Kieran Kingston I think that it’s wide open for them.”

As Meyler returns home for tomorrow’s Division 1A clash, the sideline in Innovate Wexford Park which he and Lyng, in his analyst brief with TG4, will occupy mightn’t be the best place for an olive branch.

At least Meyler knows some day it will be forthcoming.

Allianz HL Division 1A: Wexford v Cork

Tomorrow: Innovate Wexford Park, 2pm

Referee: J. Keenan, Wicklow

TV: TG4 (Live)

Bet: Wexford 6/4, Cork 4/6 Draw 8/1

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