Jason Ryan has admitted he missed being involved at inter-county level and his new role as coach/selector with Kildare is a perfect fit because it will not place the demands on his time that being manager of Wexford did.
After weeks of feverish speculation, Ryan was confirmed as Kieran McGeeney’s final selector on Saturday. The 36-year-old met with Kildare chairman John McMahon, McGeeney and selector Damien Hendy ahead of the Lilywhites’ first collective training session of the year.
Niall Carew and John Rafferty both stepped down since the All-Ireland quarter-final annihilation by Cork, with Carew’s departure – for Ryan’s native Waterford — coming as a surprise, given his significant role in the set-up.
Hendy, who is a former player and very highly-rated coach, was added to the ticket in October. Ryan’s appointment is a significant one though, as McGeeney looks to shake things up.
“I hadn’t anticipated being involved with a team this year but as time has gone by, I have missed being involved,” said Ryan, still hobbling after surgery to a cruciate knee ligament injury suffered last August.
A former Waterford and London player, Ryan was only 31 when he replaced Paul Bealin as Wexford manager in November 2007 after steering Clongeen to a county title.
He oversaw the Model County’s progress to two Leinster finals, with a stunning debut season culminating in an All-Ireland semi-final appearance against subsequent champions Tyrone.
Wexford also won the Division 3 Allianz League that season, while this year, they achieved promotion once again to Division 2. He stepped down after five seasons following Wexford’s qualifier defeat by Tipperary in July.
Ryan paid tribute to his “understanding” wife, Suzanne but said not being in the hot seat would give him much more time with his young family than had been possible before this.
“I’ve done it a bit backwards,” he conceded. “I managed a team before I’d coached a team and I’m coaching a team after managing. It fits for me at the moment. I’m involved in training, I’m involved in matches and I do my homework and that’s it.
“Whereas in the last five years… it just doesn’t stop. Whether I’m worried about the sports injuries side of things, I’m worried about the psychology side of things, the strength and conditioning, tactics. Is the bus going to be on time? Will that t-shirt fit them? Are those jerseys too small?
“I don’t have to think about that now. I can look forward to just studying opposition, studying our tactics and figuring out the best way that maybe we can play and then make my suggestions and work with Kieran and Damien on that.”
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