MICHAEL RYAN ENTERED the pantheon of Tipperary All-Ireland winning hurling managers yesterday.
But rather than bask in the glow of praise, he moved to pay tribute to the man that went before him.
For three seasons Ryan stood alongside Eamon O’Shea and got to appreciate his worth as Tipperary hurling manager. Previously they had worked together as selectors under Liam Sheedy.
“Eamonn and I are great friends,” outlined Ryan.
“We soldiered together in Liam’s regime for two years and when Eamonn came knocking at the end of 2012, I had no hesitation coming on board with him.
“We were all devastated that we did not achieve something with him because he was a great figure in our group and he remains a great friend to our group.
“I would say that Eamonn’s influence was seen out there today as well and he would have been thrilled with that work-rate, the skill that was on show out there, all that was out of the Eamonn O’Shea book of hurling.”
Plenty attention had been focused beforehand on Tipperary’s wretched record against Kilkenny since 2010. Ryan was keen not to hone in on the pain of those losses before yesterday’s decider.
“It is overdone, to be honest. They did hurt, Mother of God they did hurt but you move on and you can’t live your life looking over your shoulder.
“Today was a brand new day, it was there to be played. Sometimes history can be a burden so you have got to put it in its place, take what you can from it, learn from it and confine it to history after that.
“We had four or five rookies playing out there who were playing in their first final. Those guys have opened up a whole new chapter for themselves and they will absolutely relish the chance to come back and do something in 2017.”
Ryan’s appointment was odd in that it was flagged twelve months in advance that he would become Tipperary boss.
“Look it was probably a bit unusual but it was very well intentioned and the intention was that we were in year two of Eamon’s three year tenure and Eamon was sure that wasn’t going ahead beyond that.
“In every county, particularly in Tipp, speculation can just run riot. The other thing was that we felt we were on the right path, that we weren’t up here and successful.
“We still had to work at it but we absolutely felt we had a really good bunch of players and that we were on the right track and that we wanted continuity.
“It worked out but as I said it wasn’t a creation of this year, this was born literally of the last five years that we haven’t been successful, we’ve been working really, really hard in Tipp.”
Ryan illustrated the scale of the challenge that Tipperary faced against a team with as sparkling a record as Kilkenny.
“I would have felt all season this team would have answered the questions that would have been directed towards them.
“It’s very hard to win against top-class opposition and I can say that now because we’ve won, but for all the other counties who have failed down through the years it is so difficult.
“We were playing the most successful team that has ever played the game and the most successful manager who has managed in any sport, as far as I’m concerned, be it hurling or football.
“That’s just a tribute to where Kilkenny have taken their game over the last 12 years. I think there would have been a far greater share of the spoils for every county if Kilkenny weren’t just as dominant as they were.
“You just have to keep believing and keep doing the right things and I think that’s testament to what we saw out there today that we did, we never stopped believing that we were on the right track and these boys would cross these lines when they were asked.”
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