Wednesday 13 December 2017

'Ryan will stay until Model win Leinster'

Wexford manager Jason Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile
Wexford manager Jason Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Jason Ryan's decision to stay on as Wexford boss into a fifth season makes him the joint second longest-serving inter-county football manager behind Mickey Harte, now in his 10th season directing operations in Tyrone.

Kildare's Kieran McGeeney and Cork's Conor Counihan are alongside Ryan -- still one of the youngest managers in the game -- as fifth-season veterans.

For Ben Brosnan, Ryan's rededication to the cause last autumn was like "getting a new manager all over again."

Tenuous links with the Waterford hurlers were made, but Brosnan and the other Wexford players were always confident that, when they returned to training in pre-season, Ryan would still be in situ.

Brosnan says he can't see anyone lifting their heads in Wexford football until the Leinster title is secured.

"I think that is the way it is. Jason will stay on until then," he says. "I would love if he stayed with Wexford for the next 10 years, that's how highly I rate him. He is unbelievable with players, a great man manager, great tactically, great at everything.

"I'm sure that there are a lot of teams that would like to have him. Where ever he goes, he will improve a team. Wexford football a few years ago was not in a great place -- I know that we got to a league final in 2005, but other than that there was not much happening.

"In the last three years, we have been in two Leinster finals and two league finals. We do need to get that Leinster and he is desperate to get that... he would hate if someone else came in and we won Leinster."

Brosnan was a revelation in last year's championship, finishing second in the scoring charts with 0-32. Only Colm Cooper, who played an additional two games, surpassed him.

He lit up the early part of the Leinster Championship with his probing runs and impressive kicking -- he reinvigorated the fading art of kicking a free from the ground.

Even in defeat he was a strong contender for Man of the Match in the Leinster final against Dublin.

Wexford's 2011 season ended on a sour note in Portlaoise with a late Limerick free, its award disputed in the first place, sparking controversy over whether it should have been declared a point or not.

Brosnan was one of the few players at the time who contended that the officials were right to allow it to stand. Revisiting the controversy this week, his gripe was how the free was awarded by referee Derek Fahy in the first place.

"I thought it was a point to be honest. I don't think it was a free. A few of the lads said in public that they thought it was not a point but I didn't know and I thought it was when I saw it. I had a good enough view," he says.

"Everyone talks about the controversial score at the end, was it a point or wasn't it, but we shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. We were four points up."

Nor does he have any hang-up over technology being deployed at every ground or enforcing a rule whereby all umpires are referees.

"It is only an amateur sport. It's the same with soccer and look how much money they are making, they still haven't put it in there," he says.

"I suppose they want to stay close to their roots, the way the GAA has been the whole way up. I personally don't mind it. It doesn't really affect me."

Controversy

Wexford put the controversy behind them and secured a return to Division 2 football, losing to Longford in the decider in Croke Park last week.

Brosnan remains excited by the future Wexford football has. He can't remember attending a football match involving the county team prior to the 2006 Leinster semi-final defeat against Offaly but appreciates the foothold the game has now.

"This year there has been 3,000 and 4,000 at some of our games which is fantastic. It is great for football in the county," he enthuses.

"I still would not say it is even-par with hurling, which is more talked about, but football is still on the way up."

Irish Independent

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