Eanna Burke impressed with TJ Ryan's approach
By Cian O’Connell
On the Thursday following Galway’s All Ireland Senior Hurling Final defeat to Limerick Eanna Burke went down to train with St Thomas.
Eager to forget about the bitter disappointment Burke was struck by an unfamiliar face setting up cones at the far end of the field.
Kevin Lally, St Thomas’ well regarded manager, had attracted a significant figure to join his backroom team with the addition of former Limerick boss TJ Ryan.
“The first evening I went back was the Thursday after the All Ireland Final, I hadn't actually realised he was with us,” Burke recalls.
“I said who is your man below setting up a few cones. We shook hands and we didn't really mention it. That was it, we parked it there since and we haven't mentioned it.
“He was a fresh voice for the boys and obviously he would have serious game management skills behind him. He is a good asset to have.”
Burke has been impressed with Ryan’s training approach too as St Thomas’ prepare for a February 9 AIB All Ireland Club Semi-Final against Cushendall.
“He is excellent, I suppose he is with the times, he realises it is player based, he gets our opinion,” Burke adds. “He works off that we give him ideas, he gives us ideas. There is a healthy relationship. He takes what we have to say onboard and vice versa.”
Ryan also steered his own club Garryspillane to Limerick Premier Intermediate glory in 2018. "Yeah, they won the Intermediate, but they didn't win the Munster," Burke remarks.
"We actually missed him one day when we were playing in a County Quarter-Final, it went to extra-time and won, I'd say he was on the phone saying these boys better not get bet. We just about scraped through and he has massive experience for us."
While it was a surprise for the Thomas' players that Ryan got involved Burke acknowledges that the Limerickman has occupied a central role. “I was chatting to him after the County Final over a few drinks and he was saying that Kevin (Lally) had been on to him since last year," Burke states.
“They must have a link, I don't know what it is, maybe he didn't want to commit early on, but when we came back then there was a massive drive within the group to win another County Championship so he said we'd give it a go. It worked out well.”