TJ Ryan appointed Limerick U-21 hurling boss

TWELVE months after being overlooked for the Limerick senior hurling managers job, TJ Ryan is back in inter-county management on Shannonside.

TWELVE months after being overlooked for the Limerick senior hurling managers job, TJ Ryan is back in inter-county management on Shannonside.

The Garryspillane man was this Tuesday night ratified as Limerick U-21 hurling manager.

The former inter-county captain was given a two year term and will have Clem Smith and Peter Finn as his selectors.

Smith and Finn previously worked together in the 2007 Limerick minor hurling management.

Both have enjoyed much prominence on the local club scene.

Smith coached Ballybrown to the county intermediate title this season, while Finn has just stepped down from his role with Effin after three years that saw him lead them to the county junior and intermediate championship crowns.

The appointment of TJ Ryan was rubber stamped at this Tuesday night’s Special County Board meeting.

The ratification of the Garryspillane man was the only item on the agenda aside from the main issue of amending the county’s bye-laws.

This time last year TJ Ryan was interviewed for the vacant position of Limerick senior hurling manager.

He had served as a selector under the out-going Donal O’Grady in 2011 and put himself forward for the top job for 2012.

Ryan was interviewed but overlooked in favour of John Allen.

Instead Ryan took charge of north Cork intermediate side, Kilworth.

He managed/coached them to the Cork intermediate league-championship double.

The first task for TJ Ryan and his management team will be to secure a change of date for Limerick’s Munster championship opener next Summer.

As it stands, Limerick and Tipperary are due to clash in the U-21 competition just three days before the same counties met in the Munster SHC.

It is understood that Saturday June 1 is now the most likely date for the U-21 game with the senior game fixed for June 9.

While Limerick will have to beat Tipperary, Cork and either Clare or Waterford to regain the provincial championship, there will be much optimism surrounding the squad.

John Allen unveiled a 40-man Limerick senior hurling panel last month.

A total of 12 of those players will be eligible for the U-21 grade in 2013 - Shane Dowling (Na Piarsaigh), Alan Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh), Robert Egan (Kilmallock), Mikey Ryan (Murroe-Boher), Seanie O’Brien (Patrickswell), Mark Carmody (Patrickswell), Mark O’Connell (Glenroe), Tomas Ryan (South Liberties), Declan Hannon (Adare), Jack Ahern (Killeedy), Barry O’Connell (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca).

Among the others that could some into contention would be Kilmallock trio Mark O’Loughlin, Kevin O’Donnell and Jake Mulcahy, Ahane’s Dan Morrissey and Adare’s John Fitzgibbon.

Perhaps the biggest problem facing the in-coming U-21 management will be to liase with the John Allen, John Kiely and Eamon Meskell to ensure both panels get the most out of the young players.

The senior management are to reduce their panel in late January, so the final number of players involved with both could yet be reduced.

The large month of players on the senior panel was a big factor in the poor performance of the Limerick U-21s this season.

Three years ago at minor level, Ger Hegarty’s side just about edged past Kerry in the quarter-finals.

They then played Clare in the semi-final and lost 1-17 to 2-12 in a game that they should have won. Clare went on to win the Munster final against Waterford.

As premier U-21 county champions Na Piarsaigh will provide the captain to TJ Ryan’s squad for 2013.

The Caherdavin club will have the honour of that nomination.