Former Carlow manager Kevin Ryan has taken charge of the Antrim senior hurling team. His appointment was ratified at a County Board meeting last night.
The 47 year old had four successful years in Carlow and oversaw a transformation in the county’s fortunes, guiding them from the Christy Ring Cup to the Leinster championship.
The Mount Sion clubman was proposed for the position as Antrim boss by county chairman Jim Murray and he was voted in unanimously by the delegates. Antrim had been searching for a new manager since Jerry Wallace left after a string of disappointing results and in curious circumstances.
Michael Johnston, who led Antrim to two Nicky Rackard Cup titles, was the only other candidate for the post after PJ O’Mullan and Gregory O’Kane pulled out of the contest last week.
Ryan developed an interest in the county’s fortunes after spending time in Antrim on coaching courses two decades ago and is thrilled to be taking charge of the hurlers.
“I was up there at a very young age on coaching courses in the mid-1980s. The players have serious potential and can achieve an awful lot more.
“I had a few of the Antrim boys at the ‘Shinty’ international (Cormac Donnelly, Neil McManus, Aaron Graffin and Barry McFall) over the last few years and they were so committed, so passionate, even though the Shinty is an end-of-season thing.
“I got that feeling opposing them on the line. I just hope to bring a lot more hurling to them. They were always passionate about their game and I like that,” Ryan told the Irish News.
After his successful spell with the Carlow hurlers, Ryan knows how much the weaker counties have caught up on Antrim and he believes he can reignite Antrim’s progression which he feels has ground to a halt over the last couple of seasons.
I wouldn’t like to say what they can achieve, but I will do in time when I get to meet the players. They should be perceived to be up there with some of the top counties and they’re not.
“Antrim possibly lack consistency. They can go out one day and put it up to any team in the country and two or three weeks later they suffer a heavy defeat.
“You need that consistency. Hurling-wise, I feel they can be as good as the top teams in the country, but I don’t think they produce that often enough. I would certainly hope to work on morale and belief and that kind of stuff,” he added.