If the prospect of Glenn Ryan managing the Kildare seniors always seemed unavoidable at some stage, there was some surprise locally last night when news broke that he had been chosen to do so on this event.
ome managerial appointments seem straight-forward, almost destined to happen. Others come from the blue. Ryan’s was both.
After two days of interviews, just hours after the last of which took place, an email from Kildare’s management committee confirmed they would be putting the names of Ryan and his exalted backroom team to a county board meeting on Tuesday October 19 for ratification.
For several reasons, it had been assumed that Davy Burke and Tom Cribbin were the front runners for the post vacated so abruptly by Jack O’Connor just over three weeks ago.
For one, both had publicly declared their respective candidacies.
And though Ryan was presumed to have been interested on at the minimum the three past occasions the Kildare job has been obtainable, there was rumoured to be some reluctance on his part to go into into the interview course of action
That was until Thursday.
Yesterday, local media reported that Ryan was willing to present to the four-person Kildare sub-committee tasked with choosing a new manager.
In fact, he was the first of the prospective managers to make their case, before Burke and Cribbin on Thursday evening.
Once he was confirmed as being a runner, Ryan’s case was always going to be strong. In the end, it was too strong to reject.
His past management experience is important, though that is doubtful to have been a deciding factor.
Ryan took the Kildare Under-21s to an All-Ireland final in 2008, wherein they lost to Kerry.
The following year, he stepped into the senior inter-county arena, taking over as manager of Longford.
Ryan’s term there was notable for a shock All-Ireland qualifier victory over Mayo in 2010 and back-to-back Division 4 and Division 3 League titles in 2011 and ’12.
And in addition, it could be argued that both Burke and Cribbin had managerial C.Vs at the minimum equal to Ryan’s.
It would, however, have been difficult for the Kildare kingmakers to overlook the position of Ryan, Kildare’s captain and during their much romanced second Mick O’Dwyer era, the highest point of which was making an All-Ireland final turn up in 1998.
Equally, the regard with which his backroom team are held in Kildare surely additional huge weight to the overall package.
If Ryan’s credentials as a Kildare legend are sparkling, so are those of his management group; Anthony Rainbow, Dermot Earley and Johnny Doyle.
In the history of the scheme, Kildare have won 15 All Stars. Together, the new management team accounts for a third of that total.
Rainbow has been an inter-county manager himself, taking over Carlow for a fruitless spell beginning in 2012.
More recently, he managed Ballyboden St. Enda’s to Dublin and Leinster club titles and presumably, will finish out the current competition with the Firhouse club, who were also beaten in last year’s final.
Their collective allurement should put the pep back in Kildare’s step after the ignominy of O’Connor’s hasty exit.
Amid the fall-out and displays of wounded pride that followed, it was almost forgotten that Kildare made a Leinster final last year and were promoted back to Division 1.
They have a strong spine of experienced players who could do with some stability and direction to bring them to another level; Daniel Flynn, Kevin Feely, Eoin Doyle.
Straight-line progress is not Kildare’s forte. Booms are as frequent as busts.
The appointment of a management team, presumably in it for the long – and made up exclusively of Kildare men – seems a natural action towards rectifying that.
After 15 years of ‘outside’ managers – or in the case of Cian O’Neill, a Kildare man travelling from Cork – they stride back into the topflight backed by a management made up essentially of local football aristocracy.
In the short term, it should at the minimum change the meaningful of the mood music around Kildare as the evenings shorten.
Such appointments haven’t always been so straight-forward in the past.
The Kildare county board were recently accused of “administrative incompetence” by Kevin McStay, who entered the race to become Kieran McGeeney’s successor and was then told the consequence was already decided during a single phone call with a county board official in 2013.
It has taken this board just over three weeks to make their appointment. Having brought in Michael McGeehan from Sport Ireland to advise, they can be satisfied that the time of action was sound.
They have acted swiftly and decisively.
In Ryan and his illustrious backroom team, Kildare haven’t so much moved mountains to make their appointment, they’ve brought in the county’s complete Mount Rushmore.
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