Clare have a stronger panel now than 2013 - Ryan
Published 03/05/2016 | 02:30
It looked like his late point would hand Clare just their fourth Allianz NHL title but Colin Ryan isn't complaining about meeting Waterford again next Sunday. In fact, he's relishing it.
Ryan missed much of the latter stages of the League through honeymoon but he expertly took his chance to fire over before Maurice Shanahan's superb long-range free forced a replay.
The drawn encounter failed to come to life until the latter stages and the second chapter of the trilogy promises more tactical warfare.
Many see it as a distraction ahead of the championship but Ryan (right) scoffs at the notion. For the Newmarket-on-Fergus attacker, it beats the prospects of "another pre-season" and breaks the gap between league and championship.
"It brings us back for another day and we don't have to look forward to another pre-season. We are getting games, games, games which is great," he said.
"We love games. We would have got flogged this week and then went back to the clubs so we are looking forward to it. Then back to the clubs and it's only three weeks to the championship.
"If you ask any player it's an ideal situation. The gaps are too long between league and championship and you want competitive games."
Much had been made of possible shadow boxing ahead of their Munster SHC clash on June 5 but the "manic" action in the middle third of the pitch suggested different.
Ryan is quick to point out that teams like Waterford drive the modern-day hurler to evolve with greater thought and analysis required when stepping between the white lines.
"They are different, you know. They are different to Kilkenny, I suppose or Tipperary," Ryan said of Derek McGrath's Déise side. "It is a thinking man's game at the minute.
"It is a great learning curve for June 5. And I am sure it is going to adapt over and over again and we are going to come up with something new again."
While acknowledging that many neutrals would have been soured by some of the tactical exchanges, the 27-year-old will not apologise for doing whatever it takes to win.
"At the end of your career all you are going to look back and ask is 'did you win medals?' And that is all we care about," added Ryan. "We don't care what the supporters think and did they enjoy it. They will enjoy it if they win."
With every Clare performance in 2016 there's more resemblance to the side which claimed a surprise Liam MacCarthy success three years ago.
Graduates from their trio of All-Ireland U-21-winning sides have successfully transitioned into the senior set-up and Ryan feels that they're now even better than they were in 2013.
"Everyone's evolving. Lads are getting older. I think we are building a panel. Would I say we have a stronger panel now to 2013? I probably would. Lads are stepping up to the mark," the Salesian College maths teacher said.
"You can see the lads who are missing and it is just seamless. Lads are giving it everything in training."