The road to becoming an ECB Master Coach (Level 4) is neither short nor easy, and in many ways one could compare it to an attempt to scale Everest.
The glamour of the final assault begins at base camp and for most that is what is recorded and seen by the outside world.
This of course ignores the months of trekking and building up of resources to get into position for that final assault.
Having trekked for a number of years in the foothills of Cricket Coaching at Levels 1 & 2 it requires a degree of fortitude to battle through the rigours of a Level 3, taken as it is over an extended period with residential modules away from home, after which one might be in a position to contemplate the final assault on Level 4.
A two year degree level course in association with the University of Gloucestershire, where acceptance on the course is by invitation and interview, is not something to be entered into lightly. Indeed the workload has got the better of a number of ‘big’ names in the sport who simply couldn't reconcile the conflicting demands of course, work and home.
Perhaps it’s something that is only made for those who have never wanted to do anything other than be involved with cricket, someone like Ryan.
Ryan’s path to a County contract with Derbyshire and a 65 cap International career for Ireland was not a straightforward one as Carrickfergus club stalwart Roger Bell explains:
'Ryan was first spotted at Carrick Central primary school by Snehal Parikh who was our first overseas professional and from there he really learnt all his cricket at the club because Carrick College and Newtownabbey Tech did not take part in cricket organised by the Northern Union.
Because of this he never played any under-age cricket for the NCU and it was only at Under 19 level that he got the recognition he deserved, playing for Ireland in the International Youth Tournament in Denmark in 1993.
It was quite amazing then that less than two years later he was selected for Ireland for the first of those 65 caps.’
Ryan has always been a one-club man and his loyalty to the cause of Carrickfergus is well known as is the fact that over the years he has rejected numerous offers to play and coach from ‘bigger’ clubs both in the NCU and further afield.
All the more commendable then as Roger points out, that he played almost all his Ireland matches before playing a ‘Premier’ league match.
Carrickfergus only entered the then top Section 1 in 2004 as Ryan was signing off with a 6 wicket win over Brian Lara’s West Indies at Stormont, which is I suppose as good a way as any to end your career.
Off the field, firstly as a Northern Ireland Cricket Association Development Officer then as Talent Identification Officer for the newly formed Cricket Ireland, through spells as coach to various Irish age group sides to his present role as Irish National Academy Coach, Ryan has got his wish expressed all those years ago to Roger Bell, “I don't want to do anything else but play cricket.”
He has even had a second playing career as a ‘born again’ off-spinner.
How long the playing side will continue is uncertain but as Northern Ireland’s most highly qualified cricket coach his horizons have suddenly become much wider and there are few, if any, who would begrudge him that.
Article courtesy of CricketEurope