Ryan ready as Faithful look to banish pain of Lake loss
When the dust was still settling on Offaly's seismic defeat to Westmeath 12 months ago, Sean Ryan was the one hit hardest by the reversal.
One of few to come away with any credit from the 14-point mauling, the all-action Ryan was left sitting in Tullamore Hospital hours later nursing a concussion and an ear injury requiring stitches. When the painkillers wore off, he was down in the dumps after "one of the lowest days" of his career.
The Faithful bounced back with three wins to make an unlikely Leinster semi-final and a place in the last four is up for grabs once again when they renew acquaintances with the Lake men in Mullingar this evening (7.0).
Rewarded with captaincy of the hurlers after 12 years soldiering with the county, initially concentrating on football before moving towards the small ball, the Birr man is confident that an influx of youth can "drive Offaly forward".
At 30, the Borrisokane CC woodwork teacher is one of the elder statesmen of Kevin Ryan's squad and he can see the Waterford native, who faces a sideline duel with fellow Déise man Michael Ryan, laying foundations for the future.
"We haven't had much success over the last couple of years. Kevin is looking at getting as much as he can out of his initial year, but he's definitely thinking of the long-term as well," Ryan said.
"He wants to bring in the younger lads, get them trained up to a fitness level that's required of inter-county and make sure going forward Offaly is back on the rise.
"I get the impression off him that there is a bit of fore-planning with him. When you are at the other end of the scale you want instant results too so that's important also.
"We probably haven't got the best press over the years, but inside the dressing room we are very positive. Especially the younger lads.
"We don't read too much into it, we're well hardened now at this stage after listening to different things. It doesn't really affect us. Ninety-nine per cent of the panel don't pass much heed to it."