Michael Ryan: 'Change is good'
By Cian O'Connell
Michael Ryan is adamant that the future is bright for Tipperary.
Upperchurch-Drombane clubman Ryan stepped down as the Tipperary manager on Thursday, but insists that the blue and gold can recover following a disappointing Championship campaign.
Speaking on TIPP FM on Friday morning Ryan acknowledged that 2016 was a particularly memorable campaign for the Premier County.
"2016 was special, it was very special for us all in Tipp," Ryan recalls. "To have a successful minor team, to have a successful senior team, and not forgetting our senior footballers, who were in an All Ireland semi-final as well.
"Sport was really on fire in Tipp in 2016, the effort has changed. That is just sport. We have tried as hard as we possibly could. That is the beauty of sport, our love affair with hurling is absolutely intact. That will endure regardless. I think the future is very bright.
"The Club Championship we are about to get back into in Tipp could throw up a few surprises and players are getting opportunities. That is exactly what players want. Lets see what the County Championship brings, the Under 21s have a massive challenge coming at them next week. I think there is an awful lot to play for."
Ryan feels that the arrival of a new management set-up will be beneficial for the players. "The excictement will build and that is a hugely important point," Ryan states. "The excitement that will build with a new backroom that it will inevitably bring on top of the existing group of players, plus any additional players will give Tipp a huge lift for 2019.
"That is my belief and it always has been my belief. Change is good. I've been on the positive side of that change when we came in and it was new and it was good. We have just come to the end which is entirely natural and entirely normal."
Having previously worked as a selector under Liam Sheedy and Eamonn O'Shea, Ryan reckons the hurling landscape has altered significantly in the past decade. "Absolutely the competition has probably diverged from what it was two or three years ago when Kilkenny were the kingpins and had been for a very long time," Ryan admits.
"They were the standard bearers and we all tried to get to their level. Galway were always up there being pretty consistent and I think we were in that mix. Right now that hurling landscape has changed. We are looking at our near neighbours in Munster particularly."
The strength of the Munster Championship is confirmed by the fact that three counties from the province competed at the penultimate stage nationally according to Ryan. "We had three Munster teams contesting All Ireland semi-finals this year which was a great testament to the Munster Championship that three of them came through," Ryan adds.
"They are evolving, you have parallels to the mid 90s when Clare and Limerick came through, Wexford came through, and Offaly were there as well, it wasn't the traditional three. So that is natural, it is how it is going to be and Tipperary need to react to that.
"To be fair to everybody that is where the new thinking is required. I came through a system where Kilkenny were the benchmark, we measured ourselves against Kilkenny, they were ever present.
"That is what we strived to get to that level. We got there, we were certainly at the level, got past them on a couple of occasions, not nearly often enough, but the competition has now come from the other side and it is great to see.
"In fairness looking at the 2018 Hurling Championship you can only look back in amazement - fantastic games of hurling being played, right throughout the country, particularly in Munster."