Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Ryan gets the nod as new boss of Antrim hurling

Kevin Ryan's appointment as the new Antrim hurling manager was ratified at an executive meeting of the county board level last night.

Ryan was the preferred option of the management committee and will be already familiar with the Antrim squad, having come in direct competition with them as coach of Carlow for the last few years.

Of the four candidates for the job, only Ryan and St John's Michael Johnston were interviewed for the post. Loughgiel's All-Ireland-winning coach PJ O'Mullan junior had already pulled out of the race for the job, stating that while it interested him, his impending wedding plans would prevent him from giving the job complete focus.

Gregory O'Kane, who was involved in the backroom teams of Dinny Cahill and Jerry Wallace before leaving the set-up in mid-season under Wallace's stormy tenure, did not go forward for interview.

While in charge of the Barrowsiders, Ryan led them to back to back Christy Ring Cups, in 2008 and 2009. He played for Mount Sion in Waterford City, and the county team for several seasons during the 80's.

Ryan's appointment leaves a question mark over further involvement for Jim Nelson. Following Wallace's resignation as manager, the St Paul's man took over as interim coach and having worked with the Antrim players, it's understood that he could have been persuaded to take on a role in the coaching staff.

It's not beyond the realms of possibility that Ryan could yet approach the man who led Antrim to the 1989 All-Ireland final with an invitation to join his backroom.

After the stormy tenure of Wallace, Antrim will be desperately searching for some stability. Both Terence McNaughton and Gregory O'Kane left the senior backroom team, later citing their diminished roles as the reason.

Following a bizarre row with RTE, Wallace then resigned, but was temporarily back in as coach in a strange season indeed for the Saffron hurlers.

Nelson finished the year, with Antrim leaving the All-Ireland series with a heavy beating from Limerick, before retaining the Ulster Championship with a handsome win over Derry in a low-key final.

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