He is responsible for charting the development of hurling in Clonmel with St.Mary’s but on Sunday afternoon that project will be the furthest thing from his mind.
Michael Ryan, former Waterford senior hurling manager, will be completely focused on willing on the Deise to All –Ireland glory inCroke Park to bring a fifty eight year wait for Liam McCarthy to an end.
The Fourmilewater man made a name for himself in management by leading county and club teams to 32 All-Ireland ladies football titles. He is enjoying his project with St. Mary’s having assembled a management team to assist him in working towards the development of hurling in the town .
He is in his fourth year with St. Mary’s managing the intermediate, junior B, U/21s and minors combining it with his inter county job of managing the Westmeath senior hurlers for the last three years.
He took his charges to a qualifier with Tipperary earlier in the year and was very pleased with how they performed against the All-Ireland champions making the game a very competitive one until the later stages of the game which provided a massive boost to all involved.
The St. Mary’s challenge is one that he finds very fulfilling because of the willingness of everybody involved in the club to believe in what he was trying to achieve and the desire of everybody to put in the huge amount of work that is required to deliver real progress.
He is enjoying the challenge presented to him by the club officers at the Clonmel club.
Back to back county minor titles is the stand out achievement with St. Mary’s since he took on the role. A south intermediate title was claimed in his first year,another one last Sunday with a victory over Carrick Davins, and a s outh U21 title last year and that success has generated tremendous belief at all levels in the club.
That sense of rejuvenation has lifted the whole club and Michael and his management team of Tony Shelly, Sean O'Sullivan and Peter Egan are determined to ensure that momentum is maintained.
The self employed builder will try to park his St. Mary’s job on Sunday as he makes the trip to Croke Park to support his beloved Waterford appearing in only their second All-Ireland final since 1963.
He is very proud that his Fourmilewater club have made a massive contribution to the Waterford cause this year as they go about their task of securing an All-Ireland title for the county for the first time since 1959.
The rise and rise of All Star Jamie Barron and the emergence of Conor Gleeson as two crucial components in the Waterford structure has given him enormous satisfaction.
As Waterford manager he gave a debut in 2013 to Barron, a young man he had known from a very early age as his son and Jamie were always great friends growing up.
“Jamie always had a hurley in his hand, he never left it down. You could see he was very special from early on, he was very brave, quick, had great energy and his use of the ball and his decision making was beyond his years,” said Michael.
Jamie Barron made the club senior team at seventeen years old and was on the county minor and U/21 teams.
Barron has illuminated the championship this season with so many very special goals, most notably the extra time goal against Kilkenny and his brace of goals against Cork on semi final day.
“I remember Jamie scoring an incredible goal in 2013 against Tipperary in a league match when Brendan Cummins was on the goal. It was something else. I'm not surprised that he is using his incredible engine and his wonderful footwork to create space for himself to open up a defence and go on and score very important goals thisseason. He did play as a corner forward in the past so he does know where the goal is” said Michael .
“He is only 5 8, he has great self belief and absolutely nothing fazes him” said Michael.
He was also full of praise for Conor Gleeson and in particular for just how quickly he has established himself as a very important player for Waterford this year.
Conor enjoyed All-Ireland u-21 success last year and on the back of his powerful performance was introduced into the senior side where he did very well in the All-Ireland semi final against Kilkenny at corner back.
This year, said Michael, Conor Gleeson, has brought his game to another level very quickly.
“He is a great young lad, made himself crucial to the Waterford set up in a very short space of time. He has played as a forward for his club but for his county he has made man marking his speciality and what a job he is doing.
“In successive matches this year he has been handed the responsibility of marking Alan Cadogan, Richie Hogan, Conor McDonald and Conor Lehane and has been more than capable of handling those calibre of players.
I remember Conor Gleeson doing a similar job on his county colleague and namesake Austin Gleeson in a club game against Mount Sion in 2016 and being able to bring that skill set on to inter county level in big championship games has greatly benefited his county this year” said Michael.