Dublin hurler Paul Ryan on drug testers, juggling work and GAA and being a FIFA king
There's always time for a computer game
Paul Ryan is a busy man but he still finds time to beat Paul Schutte at Fifa. The self proclaimed 'King of Fifa' sat down with us on Thursday in Parnell Park just two weeks before Dublin face Galway in the Leinster Championship revealing that the computer game is his favourite way to de-stress.
He also chatted about new rules on drug testing for GAA players, while the Ballyboden man also reflects on the Allianz League collapse to Cork last month.
The GAA drugs scandal is a massive story – have you spoken to team-mates much about it?
'You have to be so careful with what you're taking. Chris Thompson is our doctor and it's something he puts a massive emphasis on, whether it's a Solpadeine or whatever. They're all banned these days so you're better off staying away from them.
'You could say it's nearly overdone with amateur sports but at the same time it's there and you have to abide by it. I've been tested twice – I'd be fairly relaxed so it didn't bother me because I knew I wasn't guilty so I was alright. The second time when your man came in I said 'random lads is it?' (laughing). But I can't see how a Solpadeine or a Neurofen would enhance your performance.'
'It's something I wouldn't think is rampant in the GAA at all or I'd hope it isn't anyway. If they bring in blood testing then I suppose we'll have to do it.'
Is there any truth that Ger Cunningham has really pushed Dublin's fitness this year?
'I only talked to Ger about this the other day. We all thought Ger was a mad man for fitness but he's a pure hurling man as well behind the scenes. It's all extremely good coaching. He's great at making little tweaks to your game, even something as simple as the way you're holding the hurl, just to tweak it. He's very good that way. He's focused on quick ball and being a bit more calm on the ball.'
Do you think that coaching in Dublin's underage set up has changed since your time?
'I've seen a lot of club games and younger lads are a lot more skilful these days. When I was coming up through there was a lot of focus on fitness and that was how we were going to beat teams. It's very different now and we're as skilful as any other county. Ger wants to bring that to our game.'
Why do you think it seems to be all footballers and not hurlers giving up their work to concentrate more on GAA?
'I remember in 2011 when we were beginning to make some strides I was in college and I was struggling to keep even my study and my sport together. And now I wouldn't say it's impossible but there isn't much room for anything else. I don't know anyone who's given up their jobs but you wouldn't do it unless you loved it. I think everyone tries to juggle as best they can. There's something special about the GAA.'
Is there any tension between you and David Treacy to be Dublin's free-taker?
'I dunno, it's great to have a bit of competition and it's whatever Ger decides coming into Championship. There's more aspects to both our games than just frees so I don't think it should matter who takes the frees.'
Have you had much chance to try the new hurling penalty?
'It started off with three on the line and now it's one on the line. It's something I practice a lot so you could say that it's easier with one on the line.'
'It is hard to replicate the same atmosphere and pressure in training but me and David Treacy practice them and it's good to have someone to practice with. We try and almost put each other off as well as we can.'
What have Dublin learned from the collapse to Cork?
'We started well and we just need to learn how to finish out games. I thought we'd hurled very well against Cork and we need to bring that into the Championship – the ability to finish games strong.
The game was talked about for about a week and we didn't want to dwell on it. Personally I'd like a quick turnover and the four-week wait to play Galway isn't too bad.'
Are Galway a side that it's almost impossible to prepare for because they're so inconsistent?
'It always seems to be a good game with them. Any time we play them you never know what they're going to bring – they're a fine side. They almost beat Kilkenny in the All-Ireland. Some might say they are underachievers but you just can't take them for granted.'
'I'm sure knowing exactly who we're facing in the Championship does makes analysis a little bit easier for management. We can't control on how Galway play but we can set up slightly differently but we'll concentrate on us.'
What's the Paul Ryan secret to relaxing?
'I might have struggled with a lack of a social life when I started out but now it's an everyday thing and you just get used to it. I am actually the Fifa king in the team. Paul Schutte is the worst and you can print that!'
Paul Ryan was speaking to SportsJOE at today's AIG launch of their Pupil Protector Insurance Plan in Partnership with JF Dunne Insurances in Parnell Park.