Monday 16 September 2019

Ryan may liberate Déise: O'Sullivan

Legend: Cork hurling legend and Paddy Power GAA ambassador, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, at Some Neck Guitars. Photo: Karen Morgan/Lensmen
Legend: Cork hurling legend and Paddy Power GAA ambassador, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, at Some Neck Guitars. Photo: Karen Morgan/Lensmen

Diarmuid O'Sullivan has sounded an optimistic note about Pat Ryan ahead of his now inevitable appointment as the new Waterford hurling manager.

Ryan, who worked with O'Sullivan in Kieran Kingston's Cork backroom team in 2016 and '17, is something of a left-field appointment to replace Derek McGrath.

On the one hand, he has not managed in Waterford and has no obvious links to the players, particularly by comparison to McGrath, who taught and coached so many of them at secondary school level in De La Salle.

He is, however, understood to have lined up Waterford legends Paul Flynn and Fergal Hartley to come in as part of his backroom team while the county board consulted with some players during the appointment process.

And O'Sullivan has a hunch that Ryan may liberate the Déise to some extent by employing a different style by comparison to McGrath's somewhat divisive methods.

"He's very detailed and he's very settled on the type of game he'll want to play," O'Sullivan observed.

"I think his style might suit Waterford because they have good players. I won't say Derek stifled them because that would be very, very unfair.

"I have great time for Derek, I like what he's done with them. But maybe Pat might bring a freshness and develop a different style of play that might give them an opportunity to challenge again at the top table".

Asked how Ryan's ideology might vary from McGrath's, O'Sullivan replied: "I suppose a bit more attacking maybe, he might play a bit more attacking.

"Okay Derek might say, and he's right, yes, he kept the back door closed, he did attack but maybe at times they just didn't attack enough.

"And it's not a criticism of Derek, as I say, I have very good time for him, I like the way he's approached the game.


"He's always believed that what he's doing is the right thing and it takes a very strong character to continuously back himself and his group when a lot of others were going against him".

Meanwhile, O'Sullivan reckons Cork's rapidly-improving younger players are in a better position ahead of Sunday's All-Ireland SHC semi-final with Clare than they were 12 months ago.

Then, as now, the Rebels were Munster champions but badly underperformed against Waterford while Kingston was criticised for leaving so many inexperienced players on the pitch that day. "There were questions put to us after: did we do the right thing in leaving the young lads on?" O'Sullivan recalled.

"They struggled for long periods of the game but absolutely we did the right thing.

"We knew that this group of players had the ability to get back up on the horse.

"If you had taken them off, then coming to Croke Park next Sunday they'd be thinking in the back of their own mind, 'jeez the lads took me off last year'.

"Their heads mightn't be in a great place.

"We did the right thing", O'Sullivan added.

"If you look back at that semi-final, when we were to the fore in that game, just after half-time it was the younger lads with the mix of the older lads that really pushed the thing on," concluded the former Cork full-back,

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