Sunday 18 February 2018

Ryan cools talk of a quick Kelly comeback

Jackie Cahill

NOTHING has changed. That was the clear message from Waterford hurling manager Michael Ryan yesterday as he poured cold water on speculation that he had met with axed forward Eoin Kelly for clear-the-air talks last Monday.

Reports yesterday indicated that Kelly could be set for a rapid recall to the Deise squad following discussions with Ryan.

However, the manager's stance on the matter remained firm after he discarded Kelly from the squad for what he described as fitness concerns.

"I spoke on this last Monday and I have no further comment to make on it," said Ryan who was at the Waterford IT sports campus in Carriganore yesterday as the County Board announced a two-year extension to their lucrative sponsorship deal with telecommunications company '3' Mobile.

Ryan claimed that he had not seen or read reports claiming that clear-the- air talks had taken place between the pair, responding: "I didn't see it and have no comment to make on it."

The new manager's decision to dispense, for now at least, with the services of two-time All Star Kelly has raised eyebrows within the county.

Passage clubman Kelly (29), holder of four Munster SHC medals, hasn't hit the heights that he is capable of in recent seasons, but he remains an undoubted talent and potential matchwinner.

Ryan added: "What I said last Monday was, and this is absolutely true, that there was an opportunity for Eoin -- as there was for every other hurler in Waterford -- to get on the panel and he was to go away and work on his fitness and we'd look at the situation again. Nothing has changed.

"As I said last week, I think Eoin Kelly's career is far from over. It's up to himself."

Ryan rejected the suggestion that the spat with Kelly is an unwanted distraction and sideshow so early in the former De La Salle manager's tenure.

"As far as I'm concerned there's no sideshow. We have a squad of fellas working very hard.

"The training is going fine and the attitude has been good. Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves and we're all moving forward and trying to build a team for the Munster championship."

Ryan insisted that he's "very happy" with the talent at his disposal ahead of the 2012 campaign.

The former selector revealed that he will be trimming down an extended panel of some 50 players by "the middle of next month" and revealed that he has not yet reached a decision on who will captain the team this year.

Ryan also acknowledged that Waterford must hit the ground running for the start of the Allianz Hurling League, with the competition whittled down to just five matches.

He reflected: "Under the old system there was seven games and it was possible to blood players. But now you're under pressure to win, so you'll find that counties are fielding their strongest teams on a regular basis.

"There'll probably be less room for experimentation and that's a pity in a way. What I would say about it is, by the time it's over, every one of the six managers in Division 1 will have a fair idea what talent they have available and where they stand with regard to their players.

"It will be a quick learning process. It is going to be difficult and at least one high-profile county is going to be relegated. That's the nature of it and the system is there. But we have no input into the system, so we just have to get on with it."

Ryan also voiced his opposition to proposals due before GAA Congress which could mean that players will be eligible to play with their clubs just a week before lining out for their counties.

The annual GAA think-tank will see delegates debate the merits of cutting the 13-day rule down to just six days. But Ryan insisted: "I wouldn't agree with that. In fairness, you have to have 13 days because the championship is very, very important.

"Everything is about the championship and it's very important for counties from a financial viewpoint as well, so I wouldn't be changing that 13-day rule."

Irish Independent

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