Jason Ryan can’t wait to get started as manager of the Kildare football team – and he is confident his return to the dressing room will lift the county after the Kieran McGeeney debacle.
Ryan spent this season as McGeeney’s assistant and must now pick up the pieces after County Board delegates voted the Armagh man out of office by just one vote last month.
The Kildare players issued a strongly worded statement voicing their displeasure at the McGeeney sacking, but Ryan is confident he can restore peace to the dressing room.
The Waterford native and former Wexford manager told RTE, “I didn’t ring up the players to ask them if they’d be happy if I was to apply for the job.
“Because if they thought it was the right thing they’d say it, but if they thought it was the wrong thing, it’s an awkward question to put on to one of the players.
“But I suppose in the conversations that I would have had with them last year and the time I spent with them I know I have a positive relationship with a lot of the players so I can go with my gut instinct on that.
“I’d hope that how I felt then will help with my relationship with the players. I don’t see any reason why the relationship that I had last year couldn’t develop or maybe improve in the year ahead.
“It is good to be back in the hot seat, probably not in the circumstances or the timing that I was anticipating but I’m delighted to have the opportunity.”
Ryan will start work in the coming weeks, but already he has lost promising youngster Daniel Flynn to Aussie Rules football. He admitted his disappointment at Flynn’s move to professional sports and said, “Already we’ve been dealt a blow with Daniel Flynn. He’s an exceptionally talented young man. He’s after signing for Port Adelaide so he’s not going to be available to us next year.
“After that, I haven’t met the players yet. The ratification was only last night so it will be another few days before I get the chance to speak to all the players and find out what are their plans for the year ahead.
“There’s going to be a certain amount of change, I’d imagine, like every other squad. Over the last six years they have been consistent. For the first five years of Kieran McGeeney’s management they got to All-Ireland quarterfinals and a semifinal in one year.
“Last year was a big year, playing in Division 1 and retaining our status there.
“The team have been performing at a consistently high level over the years so it’s a matter now of improving certain areas and a large part of it is figuring out exactly what does need to be improved and how we can do it.
“I suppose that’s where a lot of our time is going to be spent in our preparation in the few months before the National League starts.
“The challenges are right from the start of the year – getting the players that you want to play, getting the right backroom team in place.
“It’s a great time with a new group and fresh start. Even if things aren’t that different the fact that it’s different people doing it it’s like a change. It will be new for me and I’m looking forward to it.”