Saturday 20 January 2018

Loss hard to stomach but Offaly back on track - Ryan

Sean Ryan, Offaly, in action against Shane Fives, Waterford (Photo: Sportsfile)
Sean Ryan, Offaly, in action against Shane Fives, Waterford (Photo: Sportsfile)

Michael Verney

He was the worst spectator in O'Connor Park two weeks ago but Sean Ryan is now fit to return from concussion and expects a different Offaly side to show up for their do-or-die clash with Kerry on Sunday.

Ryan was one of the only Offaly players to come out of their 14-point mauling against Westmeath with any credit but a heavy challenge late on forced him to the sidelines.

And having been out of the "playing bubble", he admits it was a hard to not let the negativity seep in during "one of the lowest times" of his 11-year inter-county career.

"I was in Tullamore Hospital until midnight waiting around and getting scans and getting stitches in my ear. It gave me too much time to dwell on the match, what happened, the result and once the painkillers started to wear off, I was pretty low," the former dual star said.

"There's an expectation when you play with a team with the tradition of Offaly to be beating those teams and it was a serious battle trying to bounce back quickly from that.

"We definitely had an awful lot of negativity," he added. "It's very hard to remove yourself from that when it's all around you and every radio station you turn on, every paper you read, are talking about it.

"When you know you're not going to be playing you're listening and reading more about it. It's hard to stomach it. I was nearly going to bring in my hurl and helmet with me just in case. I've been involved with Offaly seniors for 11 years and I think it's been the first time I haven't been fit to play in a championship game so it wasn't a familiar position to be in."

Despite "seizing up" with the threat of Christy Ring looming, the Faithful County ground out a result against Carlow with the Birr man admitting it was "as big as an All-Ireland final" for Eamonn Kelly's under-fire side.

The secondary school teacher, 29, is one of the elder statesmen of a youthful set-up and tried to impart some words of wisdom from his own experiences to his team-mates.

"That was as big as an All-Ireland final. If you lose an All-Ireland final it obviously feels like the end of the world at the time but ultimately you're either the first or second best team in the country," he said.

"Whereas if we had lost we were playing Christy Ring and no player wanted to be associated with allowing the jersey and the tradition of Offaly to fall back. And that was clear in everyone's mind.

"You just have to get on with it. You can't let it dictate your life either, it's not good for you either and I've learned no matter how good or bad you played, you need to park it to one side and move on."

Ryan will swap the maor uisce bib for a starting berth this weekend and believes "Kerry will fancy their chances" but he expects a rejuvenated Offaly display. "You should see a sharper and more precise team performance," he said.

"We're back on track and we're still involved in this Leinster campaign, there's no reason why we can't win and go on from there."

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