Relaxed Ryan looks to start Wexford revival against Dublin
AFTER his meteoric rise was followed by an equally dramatic fall in the past two seasons you would expect Jason Ryan to be a bit nervous about his third year in inter-county management.
Yet not even a tough O'Byrne Cup opener against their recent nemeses Dublin tomorrow fazes the unflappable Wexford boss.
"I reckon I have the easiest job in the country right now," he insists. "This time last year there were huge expectations on the likes of myself and Malachy O'Rourke (Fermanagh).
"But last season was so bad that expectations now couldn't be lower on me and those expectations have moved onto people like Kevin Walsh (Sligo) and John Evans (Tipperary)."
He's not joking. Wexford's 2008 Annus Mirabulis, his first year in management, included a Division 3 title, a first Leinster final appearance in 50 years, and victories over Down and Armagh to reach the All-Ireland semi-finals.
But 2009 was, equally, their Annus Horribilus. They had a disastrous League, dropped to Division 3, lost to Meath in Leinster and, despite beating Offaly, went out of the qualifiers to Roscommon.
Ryan is relishing their early-season clash with the Dubs, which is also a dress-rehearsal for their Leinster quarter-final next June.
"You always know you are going to play a very organised, fit team when you meet Dublin, which will help tell you something about your own players," he says. "After so many lows last year, it is the ideal way for us to start."
Meanwhile, Bryan Sheehan will captain All-Ireland football champions Kerry this season after being nominated by South Kerry.
Sheehan struggled to nail down a starting spot last season but his chances have improved since the departure of Tadhg Kennelly and Tommy Walsh to Australia.
In his absence, Sheehan's divisional clubmate Killian Young will fill the role after being nominated as vice-captain.
Castleisland's Ger Reidy and An Ghaeltacht's Tomas Mac an tSaoir will be the two main contenders for the No 1 jersey after All Star goalkeeper Diarmuid Murphy announced his retirement.
Derry footballer Enda Muldoon will have to battle back from a potential career-ending injury.
Muldoon (32) broke his foot at training this week, which will necessitate surgery and keep him out for three months. This is the third time the Ballinderry star has broken the same metatarsal in the past 15 months.
Dublin club Parnells have confirmed that returned Aussie Rules and Laois footballer Colm Begley (23) is joining them and will work for the club as a Games Promotion Officer while also studying in the capital.
Wexford team in factfile