It started again for Limerick manager TJ Ryan this week. The sleepless nights, the tossing and turning as he went over again and again in his head every little detail for Sunday’s Munster final against Cork.
“When you’re involved in something, entangled deep into something, you do have these nights,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s work or sport or whatever you’re involved in, when you put the head on the pillow at night and you’re picking teams. I’m driving through villages and I don’t remember it because you’re trying to move fellas from corner-forward to wing-forward. That might sound funny but I think anybody who has got involved in that it happens. Us as a backroom team, we’d be hard on ourselves, maybe looking for little edges all the time so big pressure.
“Yes, it will probably be back to the sleepless nights again, basically looking and counting and seeing every player and every movement and trying to make sure you are ahead of the game. It’s not easy! We feel we’re well prepared, training has gone well. I’m sure when you guys talk to Jimmy Barry-Murphy he’ll probably feel the same thing so you’ll have two good sides, two well-prepared sides, two good hurling teams going at it hammer and tongs. It will come down to small things on the day, that’s basically the way things have gone.”
In TJ’s case, taking over a champion team in controversial circumstances, there is even more pressure than usual on an inter-county GAA manager. Easing the burden though, he says, is the team he inherited, players and management alike.
“In fairness to the management team and the players we have, they’re an intelligent, articulate bunch of guys who make my life very easy. There’s a lot of shoulders going to the wheel. Right now it seems to be working but we’d be conscious too that we’ve only one game won so let’s not get carried away. We probably knew from last year that the mentality is there but it is difficult.”
That Tipp win in Semple Stadium, his first in sole charge of affairs, was a big one for a number of reasons, not least the fact that it means Limerick will be hurling into late July.
“Ah, huge. In sport, when you win, no matter what you did — if you were doing sets above in the Gaelic Grounds — it would have been right but when you lose everything gets questioned and everything you did was incorrect. It was probably just getting that out of the way. I knew what we were doing was right, I was happy the way we were going. Maybe just to get a bit of a monkey off the back, to say to people, ‘maybe he does know what he’s doing’ – there was a little bit of that all right.”
He knows though, a poor display by Limerick and he’s back in the firing line. Fun? No wonder he has those sleepless nights. “I’ve been involved in hurling all my life — I think you can enjoy it when things go right.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved