Jason Ryan knows he has his work cut out
New Kildare manager under no illusions after replacing Kieran McGeeney
New Kildare manager Jason Ryan. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.
It has been a long few weeks for Jason Ryan. The newly appointed Kildare manager was brought in by his predecessor Kieran McGeeney a year ago as coach and assistant. When news emerged that the county board had let McGeeney go, Ryan said that he “wasn’t even going to entertain the suggestion” of taking over the position.
The Waterford native, who had five years with Wexford, told this newspaper about the process of changing his mind.
“Initially I was in shock and it took a while before it sank in. I was very disappointed because I thought it was the end of the road and that I wouldn’t get a chance to work with the players again. I suppose at first I lived in hope that something would be resolved but once Kieran made the statement that he wouldn’t be back I knew it was over.”
Ryan is also at pains to point out that he has maintained contact with McGeeney, who this week was announced as a selector with his own county, Armagh.
“Yes, we’ve spoken. Something I’m determined to do is to hold on to my good relationships. Kieran and I have been in touch all the way through.”
So there has been no friction about his succession?
“Not at all. Everything is very amicable. There are no issues and everyone in Kildare I’m sure will wish Kieran every success in Armagh – unless they’re playing Kildare. I’m glad I had a year working with him and seeing how he organised structures and the great ethos of hard work that he instilled in everyone.”
He says that although he has had exploratory talks with potential members of his management team, there will be no early announcements.
“We have time between now and the start of the O’Byrne Cup and the priority is to get everything right in that time. In Wexford I never rushed appointments to the backroom team because I wanted to make sure that I got the right people. I’ve met with a number of people I hope to be working with but I’m not in any hurry to announce appointments just yet.
“We’ll be looking at new players but also giving every chance to last year’s panel. There are no preconceptions about who’s in and who’s out.”
One player who categorically won’t be involved is Daniel Flynn, who has signed for Australian rules club Port Adelaide.
“I wish him well,” says Ryan. “If it’s best for Daniel to stay in Australia for another 20 years, I’m happy for him but if it’s best for him to come home after a year or two I know everyone here would also be pleased with that.”
He has already begun to meet players on an individual basis as part of the preparations for when the county can resume training after the off season in seven weeks. In the meantime he’ll be busy.
“I’ve spent a year working with most of them and have met some since, particularly those with injury issues or due to have operations just to see how they’re progressing. We can’t all get together in any meaningful way until December 1st.
“Dublin are the benchmark for a lot of teams around the country. The gap between them and us – judged on our Leinster championship result – means that we have work to do. We have to improve the standard of performance in big games. When I was appointed I said that there wasn’t a magic solution.”