THE right man at the right time. That would probably be the best way to sum up the announcement that Pat Ryan was to become the next Cork hurling manager.
When his predecessor, Kieran Kingston revealed that he was stepping aside after his three year stint, the Sarsfields man was the obvious choice for a host of reasons.
A former star player and a very successful manager with his club and subsequently with the Cork Under-20 team, he brings a wealth of experience to the post and handing him a three year tenure was the right thing to do.
The Cork County Board has to be given praise for the swift action that they took in his appointment, just 24 hours after Kingston’s departure.
There was a fear that putting the next Cork boss in place might have been a long drawn out process with speculation mounting on almost a daily basis.
Having somebody at the helm for the start of the local championships needed to be a priority and the County Board acted with great haste That was the right thing to do, giving Ryan and his new management team every opportunity to have a good, hard look over the next couple of months at players who might have something to offer the Cork jersey.
And, of course, Ryan will not be starting from scratch. Kingston has laid down a solid base from which he will be building on and having guided the Cork Under-20 team to successive Under-20 All-Irelands, he already has a great insight into those players that he will be hoping can carry the process a stage further.
Already, we have seen one of them, Ciaran Joyce make a huge impact on the senior stage while others like Alan Connolly, Daire O’Leary, Sam Smyth and Shane Barrett have come to the forefront as well.
Ryan will, of course,be hoping that he can bring others along as well to the level that is required for senior inter-county hurling.
In fact, it’s fair to suggest that Cork hurling is in a better place than it is in some other counties in so far as winning titles at under age level is concerned.
Kingston certainly has not left the shop empty with his departure and whilst the promised land of an All-Ireland title was not reached, that should not diminish the contribution that he made over the past number of years.
You could say, without fear of contradiction, that the effort and workrate that he put in was immense.
Now the baton will be passed to Ryan and you could say that there is not a better man in the county to follow in his footsteps.
He has a vast knowledge of all things Cork hurling, has previously worked in the Cork senior set-up with Kingston and he will be aware of the pitfalls and all the other aspects of trying to be a successful senior boss.
In his club Sarsfields he always generated a strong atmosphere among the players that he coached, he commanded great respect among them and that was given back in bucketloads.
Club stalwart and former long-serving secretary Jim Murphy certainly believes that Cork have secured the right man..
Yes, firstly, Pat is a very honourable person. He has been hugely successful here in Riverstown as a player and subsequently with his involvement on the managerial stage.
“ He followed up the good work of John Crowley and Bertie Og Murphy in leading us to two more county titles after their successes and he left a huge mark in our club in those years.
“He is a player's man and he will bring plenty of energy to the Cork job.
“He has a good way with players but, at the same time, he will be firm with them in his approach.
“We saw what he did with the Cork Under-20s and it’s a natural progression for him to be now taking on the senior post.
“Already we have seen the further development of some of those players and you could say that young Joyce from Castlemartyr was the find of this season.
“Obviously, it’s a great honour for the club to have the Cork manager in our ranks again and he follows Bertie Og in that position.’’ he told the Echo Ryan will get down to work quickly after a family holiday and at the first opportunity that arises he will talk to the players.
“You can be certain that he will be seen in a lot of county grounds over the coming months when the championships at all levels get underway and hoping that a few previously unheralded players might put up their hand.
He has plenty of time on his side in that regard and ideally he will be looking for a strong blend of youth and experience in the Cork teams that he will send out.
Ryan’s appointment brings experience and continuity and there will be an awareness too how the game has changed in just a few short years since his last involvement at senior level alongside Kingston.
The emphasis now on physicality and a massive workrate is greater than ever as Limerick and Kilkenny this season have shown.
There might be contrasting views on where Cork hurling is at right now after their failure to get back into Croke Park for the latter stages of the All-Ireland series.
There were early struggles in Munster with the failures to Limerick and Clare but the reinvention of the team against Waterford and Tipp was encouraging.
Cork should have beaten Galway and we all saw how close Galway were to beating Kilkenny.
So, maybe we are not that far away and there’s no better man now than Pat Ryan to further the process and bring Cork back to the top table again.
We wish him well.