Happy with a life more ordinary as these boys of summer winter well
A trio of former intercounty managers are now enjoying life, writes MALACHY CLERKIN
In the summer they were astronauts, strapped to the rocket and headed for wherever it was going. No longer though. They’re civilians again, earthbound Johnny Punch-Clocks like the rest of us. They were intercounty managers and now they’re not. The job is still with them to some extent but it’s a fading tattoo. The phone doesn’t have smoke coming out of it any more, the tyres on the car see wear without tear.
A life more ordinary – not forever necessarily, but at least for now.
Intercounty management is a Pac-Man, chomping away at every other morsel of your life that it can. When Jason Ryan started with Wexford in 2008, he still managed to keep up a bit of football with his club De La Salle in Waterford. When he started with Wexford in 2008, there was him and his wife and that was as far as his family tree branched.
In the space of four years, there came along two bouncing additions which led to one inevitable subtraction. By the time he finished up with Wexford, he’d hardly kicked a ball with De La Salle for two years.
So it was with gusto unconfined that he returned to training with the club in August. Still only 36, he had lost time to make up for and no lack of shape with which to make it up. Yet no sooner had he come back than said gusto became all too confined all too quickly. On his first night back, he tore his cruciate. Cue an operation, crutches, the full works.
“That was it – gone,” he says. “The club were great, there was no hassle with me coming back and then the very first night, the cruciate went. I had intended get right back into it but I got an operation eight weeks ago so that’s it gone by the wayside now again.”
So he’s not a player and he’s not a manager. He’ll always be a coach – half his work is PE teaching, the other half is a coaching course in Dungarvan – but just for now, he’s at nobody in particular’s beck or call.
“On Monday I was delivering a coaching course in Waterford for Coaching Ireland. And every other night this week, I will have zero commitments. It’s great, it’s given me other avenues to explore. I’d be fairly needy as an individual with regards to trying to get information on stuff to do with coaching and for the last few years, the idea of upskilling for coaching and management was just a non-runner. Even if Wexford’s season finished in July, you were straight into county championship then and you were looking at talent for the following year.”
This time last year, life was manic. He was recruiting players, trying to sell them Wexford football above Wexford hurling. He was playing trial matches and presenting plans to the county board. He was fund-raising at every turn, just so they could bank enough for a training weekend somewhere. At one stage, they put on a fund-raising soccer match against Wexford Youths but couldn’t get insurance because neither the FAI nor the GAA would cover them for the game. Headache upon headache and the season still months off in the distance. Yet he feels the loss of it, no point pretending otherwise.
“I’m happy right now but I’m missing what’s going on. I am getting the chance to taste slightly different things. I’ve had a chance to coach a bit more with various club teams and whatever. Sometimes when you’re managing, you miss out on the bit of coaching because you don’t take as much of the sessions as you’d like.”