Cork selectors Eamonn Ryan and Eoin O'Neill. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Eamonn Ryan

'It is at a very public stage now, they just can't avoid hearing the criticism' - the Cork football challenge

The All-Ireland ladies football winning boss is focused on consistency with the Rebels.

EAMONN RYAN ACHIEVED multiple All-Ireland wins in his time with the Cork ladies footballers, their team standing out as a shining symbol of success.

With the men’s side, the selector has more modest targets as he seeks to help restore the confidence of a Cork team that have been beaten down in recent times.

Cork suffered a first Munster loss to Tipperary in 72 years last summer before bowing out of the qualifier race against Donegal in July.

The dawn of 2017 generated another setback as they fell short of clambering out of the second tier to secure league promotion.

Ryan admits it is difficult for the players to be shielded from that criticism yet praises the players dedication ahead of Saturday’s Munster opener against Waterford.

“It is at a very public stage now. They just can’t avoid hearing the criticism. That does have an effect on them.

“Now, you wouldn’t see it at training. You couldn’t question their commitment at training. It is massively frustrating for the lads. They do work very hard.

“It is quite conceivable that it will happen, like turning on a switch. It could take the tiniest thing to turn it, some fella just grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and others being inspired by that.

“A lot of them are there a few years. It is in their own hands really. I do think it is going to happen. I can’t say when, but I do genuinely think it is going to happen.

“They are that committed that it is going to happen for them. Unfortunately, I can’t say when.”

A key trait of Ryan’s ladies football sides was their ability to dig narrow wins out of tight finales as six of their All-Ireland decider wins were achieved by a margin of one or two points.

Eamonn Ryan and Valerie Mulcahy celebrate Eamonn Ryan and Valerie Mulcahy celebrating Cork's 2015 All-Ireland final win over Dublin. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“That is what you would be aspiring too. There is a difference in that the men’s thing is very public. It is out there the whole time.

“It was probably easier work on it with the girls because there wasn’t that media focus. Anywhere you go, you are going to get a comment about the Cork footballers.

“The ladies, you’d get a comment from time to time. The ladies got time to develop.

“The first few league matches we had, we lost them, but we weren’t in the glare of publicity. The boat steadied then.”

Ryan has a clear objective for Saturday’s clash in the Fraher Field.

Morgan O'Sullivan and Eamonn Ryan with manager Peadar Healy Eamonn Ryan (right) before Cork's league clash with Mayo in 2016. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“What I want from the Waterford game and this sounds so cliched and simplistic, I’d want that every one of the Cork players came off the field saying I played as well as I can.

“That is what any team is thriving to do. Take Arsenal, Ozil can’t say that half the days he plays.

“There were games where they played to their potential for quite a period but didn’t finish it out. The Donegal game was one last year, Meath this year, was another.

“The first match against Mayo in the league in 2016. We don’t get the full trip.

“The players are working so hard. I couldn’t find fault with them. But it is just not happening in the games. I am hoping it will some day and we’ll take off from there.”

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