Friday 9 December 2016

Off The Ball: Rebelettes' Ryan deserves place in pantheon of coaching greats

Joe Malloy

Published 23/12/2015 | 02:30

Eamonn Ryan, the man who took charge of a Cork team suffering routine hammerings at the hands of Kerry and Waterford and turned them into the most dominant group we are ever likely to see in Gaelic games (SPORTSFILE)
Eamonn Ryan, the man who took charge of a Cork team suffering routine hammerings at the hands of Kerry and Waterford and turned them into the most dominant group we are ever likely to see in Gaelic games (SPORTSFILE)

It is one of the curiosities of our relationship with sport that we invest so much time following the soap opera travails of characters many of us don't really like and so little time listening to some of the great people, who have lots of interesting things to say.

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This thought particularly struck me recently reading Mary White's book Relentless about the Cork Ladies, who have just won their 10th All-Ireland football title in 11 years.

Consider the following quote: "Fifteen years ago, coaching was all about me, what I said, what I thought. I now view my role as to create a positive environment where the player can flourish, physically and mentally, and become the best player they can be."

Jose Mourinho this is not, but instead Eamonn Ryan, the man who took charge of a Cork team suffering routine hammerings at the hands of Kerry and Waterford and turned them into the most dominant group we are ever likely to see in Gaelic games.

In his first season he battled with prostate cancer. In this, his 12th season, now aged 74, he has decided to bid farewell and work as a selector with the Cork men's team.

It struck me as a strange move, a downgrade of sorts. He's in the midst of creating history with the Cork ladies, of setting a target no other team could ever hope to approach. Why give up on that to go in with the men and "hopefully do a bit of training", as he put it to us on Monday night's show?

The simple truth is he is not a man driven by ego.

He felt the chance to try something new at this stage in life was too tempting to pass up.

There were a ton of things I could have highlighted from 2015. The golf nut in me really enjoyed Jordan Spieth's tilt at a career Grand Slam, we're headed to Euro 2016 and we did actually win a Six Nations.

But as the year draws to a close we should pay proper tribute to the glorious job done by a rather brilliant man. He managed Cork for 165 games, won 10 All-Irelands, nine National Leagues, 10 Munster titles and managed 91 players. Not half bad. Happy Christmas!

JM

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