SOME Wexford footballers had a chuckle together earlier this week as they looked ahead to their third game in the O'Byrne Cup tomorrow.
The irony of facing Kildare and their former manager Jason Ryan – so early in the season – is not lost on them.
For five years they saw, first-hand, what a perfectionist the Waterford man is and just how minutely he would prepare them for every single game.
This included detailed instructions about what and when to eat and drink, before and after training and games.
If the service of a team meal was a little slow in coming Ryan, reportedly, thought nothing of slipping into a hotel kitchen to quietly see that it was moved along to meet his exact schedule. Wexford also never crossed a white line without a complete case history and detailed analysis of their opponents.
With Ryan newly installed as Kieran McGeeney's right-hand man in Kildare, Wexford expect his inside knowledge of them has been referenced this week, even though this is essentially a dead rubber and the Lilywhites are already through to the semi-finals.
Ryan, they explain, takes every game seriously and leaves nothing to chance. He is one of the new breed of young GAA managers who borrow widely from other sports and apply science, technology and experimental tactics to modern inter-county football.
He was a relative unknown and still playing football for Waterford when he became Wexford manager in late 2007, on foot of managing local side Clongeen to a county title.
Within a year he was a household name, after leading Wexford to the 2008 Leinster final and beating Armagh and Down to reach the All-Ireland semi-finals, where they lost to Tyrone.
It was an extraordinary transformation and in the subsequent years Wexford were unlucky not to beat Dublin in the 2011 Leinster final and gave them another stiff challenge last summer before bowing out to Tipperary in the second round of the qualifiers.
When he was among the guest speakers at a coaching course in Kildare last year, local clubs got some insight into Ryan's methods.
He gave them a power-point presentation on 'periodisation', the theory of organising training in different cycles to allow you peak when most required.
Yet he also produced his mobile phone and demonstrated its usefulness as a coaching tool for videoing players and giving them immediate feedback.
That epitomised how Ryan, a PE teacher in Dungarvan, combines sports science and his own practical teaching nous as a coach.
"Our level of preparation under Jason was on a different scale than anything we had ever experienced," one Wexford player says. "Apart from our own training, the level of research into the opposition that he would give you was right down to the very last detail."
To those from another era his methods might look borderline obsessive.
It was not uncommon for Wexford players to get emails from Ryan at 1.0 in the morning and it was always his way or the highway.
That description could equally be applied to Donegal's Jim McGuinness or Kildare's boss McGeeney, young driven managers, who are unapologetic about the demands they place on players.
McGeeney has totally transformed Kildare's footballers physically and motivated them to the point that they even fundraised themselves to set up their own weight-training gym.
When vacancies emerged in his back room this winter, it didn't take a genius to figure he would approach Ryan.
That it was a secret right up until the moment Ryan met the Kildare's players – they got a text the day before their first training session telling them they would meet their unnamed new coach next day – shows how tightly his appointment was controlled.
One Wexford player – who says "our loss is definitely Kildare's gain" – describes Ryan as "a stickler for detail," a phrase that could equally be used to describe McGeeney.
In his five years in charge, Kildare have never reached less than an All-Ireland quarter-final. They lost a semi-final in 2010 and were only pipped in extra-time by Donegal two years ago.
McGeeney clearly shares a scientific approach and football philosophy with his new selector, but the fascination for many now is to see how well two such strong-minded individuals can work together, and whether Ryan can help him find that missing X-factor that could finally get the Lilies across an All-Ireland finishing line.