League Predictions with Shane Ryan


Former Dublin powerhouse Shane Ryan was sound enough to answer a few questions for us on the Allianz League, football and life in general.

Shane Ryan

SportsTalk – Who do you think will win Division 1,2,3,4?

Shane Ryan – Dublin, 2-Tyrone, 3-Kildare, 4-Wexford

ST – Who do you think will be top scorer in Division 1,2,3,4 leagues?

SR – 1-Dean Rock, 2-Darren McCurry, 3-John Heslin, 4-CJ McGourty

ST – Who do you think will get relegated from Division 1,2,3?

SR – 1-Roscommon, Down, 2-Fermanagh, Cavan, 3-Limerick, Offaly

ST – Give a brief summary of how you see the Division 1,2,3,4 panning out.

SR – While I think most teams in this division are capable of beating anyone on a given day, and I expect to see a lot of good competitive matches, I think the usual suspects will challenging for the title this year, with Dublin’s strength in depth putting them on top. AI finalists Kerry, along with Monaghan and Donegal, are always difficult to beat and will definitely fancy their chances of having a good run. Mayo and Cork are consistent league performers and under new management will almost certainly push hard but Dublin will be setting the pace in this division. Roscommon and Down will look for a strong start but will struggle to maintain the tempo required to stay in this division.Galway have been steadily improving over the last number of years and with the quality footballers they have in their ranks will be very eager to return to the top flight. Along with Tyrone I think they will get there. Derry and Armagh will make it very difficult but I feel will come up just short. Out of the remaining 4 I think Fermanagh will be the unlucky ones to go down, along with Cavan.

ST – What are your memories from playing in the National Football League?

SR – I always loved playing in the league, and the system certainly improved as the years went on. When I made my debut with Dublin the league was started in November, with usually 3 games before Christmas and 4 after. You could be waiting 2 or 3 weeks between matches, which dragged out the season quite a bit. Moving all games to after Christmas, and eventually bringing in floodlit matches, made it hugely enjoyable. Games came thick and fast, which is obviously the reason we play the game. It was also a pretty nice interruption to the monotony of winter training.

ST – When was your national league debut, who was it against and how did it go for you?

SR – My debut was in the 1999 season, which I’m pretty sure was played in Nov 1998, as it was the first league game of the season. It was against Tyrone. I was playing corner back and was on a Tyrone lad who I’d gotten to know quite well in a college freshers game for DCU against UUJ a few months previous. To my recollection it was a stunning debut!!!

ST – Which ground did you least prefer playing in the National League? Explain why.

SR – It never really bothered me where we played, as I always loved travelling for matches. In saying that, one place where we never seemed to be able to get a positive result was Cork. I can’t recall ever beating them down there. It also didn’t help that the Páirc Uí Caoimh changing rooms would be a more suitable size for use as a physio room!!

ST – Which team do you think this League is the most important for? Explain

SR – Cork and Mayo. With both counties putting new management teams in place, renewed optimism comes with them. Both players and management will want to make an immediate impact to impress and to establish a consistency that can carry through to the summer.

ST – What’s your favourite memory from the national football league?

SR –  It would be very easy to say my debut, which was certainly up there, but was probably eclipsed by scoring 2 goals against Westmeath in 2002 to bring my career goals tally to a grand total of 2.

ST – If you could sign 3 players from other counties for your team, who would you sign and why?

Michael Murphy

SR – Michael Murphy-has it all; skill, pace, strength, physical presence, ball winning ability and can score. What more do you need?

Aidan Ó Shea-has pretty much all the attributes of Murphy and would probably excel in any position on the pitch.

Conor McManus-class player, lightning quick and can score from anywhere. Former defender but why waste him in the backs when he’s that good up front?

ST – What was your least favourite memory from the league?

SR – Probably being brought on and taken off in the same game in 2009. All in the first half so it’s a hard one to forget.

ST – There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about player burnout, a GAA calendar that is unfair on clubs, getting rid of the under 21 competitions, combining the League and Championship to shorten the year for inter-county players etc What are your opinions on all this and what changes would you suggest to the structure of the GAA calendar?

SR – The biggest problem with this is the never ending season. While I was with Dublin the season would generally start informally in November/December, and properly in January, all the way until August. Then there would be remaining club matches until probably November, sometimes December, when the cycle would begin again. In Dublin this has improved over the last few years, not enough though. Making fixtures that suit both inter county AND club calendar is a challenge, but sticking to them when they are made is hugely important. Too often games get postponed due to county players commitments, which only lengthens the year. When you throw in college competitions it becomes extremely cluttered. Every manager wants their team to get the most commitment from players, and players want to play all the matches they can, but it’s not sustainable so a balance must be found. Shortening the inter county season would be a good start, such as removing the cup competitions and reducing the break between the leagues and championships. This way the club fixtures could be played off earlier in the year giving an off-season to a lot more players.

ST – Is the general standard of football improving or getting worse?

SR – With all the knowledge at our disposal these days the physical condition players can reach is the best it’s ever been. While this doesn’t necessarily improve the standard of football I think the general approach in the modern game, which is to leave no stone unturned and look for every possible advantage over other teams, has brought the game on both tactically and in terms of skill levels. Football is always evolving and will continue to evolve, and while not every season can be a humdinger, if you look at any successful team over the last decade, whether they employed an open attacking style or all out defence, they all had high quality players used in the optimal way which pushes the game to new levels as everyone else strives to reach the top.

ST – Who do you think will be the surprise package of this year’s League?

SR – Hard to say, but Tipperary have been making great strides at underage level in recent years, not to mention at club level this year. While this doesn’t automatically translate to senior level, they certainly have potential there.

ST – How important do you think it is to do well in the league ahead of championship?

SR – Winning’s a habit, as is losing if you let it so ignore the league at your peril. The most successful championship teams consistently do well in the league. That’s not to say it’s a necessity to have a good league run, but it helps quite a bit.

ST – Favourite Box set?

SR -The Wire

ST – Favourite movie of all time?

SR – One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

ST – Favourite song to listen to before a match?

SR – Stone Roses-This Is The One

ST – Toughest opponent?

SR – Jarlath Fallon

Jarlath Fallon

ST – Three young players from your club to watch out for?

SR – Kevin O’ Brien, Shane Carthy, Cian Madden

ST – Three things you would bring with you to a deserted island?

SR – TV, bed and a boat.

ST -Medal you most cherish in football?

SR – Leinster (only one I have)

ST – What did you love most about been an intercounty footballer?

SR – Having access to everything required to train like a pro, and big matches in Croker.

ST – What did you dislike most about been an intercounty footballer?

SR – Saying no to everyone.

ST – Favourite holiday destination?

SR – Vietnam

ST -Favourite soccer team?

SR – Ireland

ST – Laziest team-mate you played with?

SR -Paul Casey

ST – If you could be someone else for one day who would you be?

SR -George Clooney

ST – Other sports you have played?

SR – Hurling, rugby, tennis, squash, volleyball, golf, most of them poorly.

ST – Most annoying person on tv?

SR – Anyone on any programme my wife Caoimhe watches.

ST – Three people you would like to go to dinner with?

SR – Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Scarlett Johansson.

Where did Scarlet and Dave disappear to?
Where did Scarlet and Dave disappear to?

ST – Favourite dinner

SR – Thai Green Curry

ST – What age do you think you will retire from club football?

SR – Hopefully 37


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