Ryan Wylie may be used to lining out against the blue jerseys of Dublin, but off the field, the Monaghan defender is settled into life in the capital.
The 24-year-old first moved to Dublin when he began his studies in Radiography in UCD and it was there that he struck up friendships with Paul Mannion, Jack McCaffrey and Michael Fitzsimons, whom he won the Sigerson Cup with in 2016.
In August of that year, Wylie began his work as a Radiographer in the Mater Hospital and he has since mastered the art of juggling a demanding job with the pressures of inter-county football. His weekly schedule includes three-hour return trips to Monaghan for training.
“You look at some people and they’re home at nine o’clock and we’re only finishing our training at nine or after it and you’re back into your house around 12 and by the time you get settled down in the bed, you’re wrecked.
“But that’s just the way it is and there’s no point complaining about it, it’s not going to change. The road from Monaghan to Dublin is not going to get any shorter! I’ve been doing it since 2013 so I’m used to it now, it’s part of my week.”
“If you want to find it tough, it will be tough. I’m sure there’s loads of other players around the country with tougher jobs. I get on with it just fine.”
“There’s the odd time that I’m not able to make training or I’m missing something. In fairness, Malachy’s very good. He understands. He knows everything that’s going on.”
“At the minute, I’m happy. I’ve got a good house, a good job. I’m 24, living in Dublin. Dublin is good craic so I don’t think I’ll be leaving it soon.”
The Ballybay man enjoyed a stellar year in 2018 as Monaghan reached the All Ireland semi-final, where they lost out to Ulster rivals, Tyrone.
During that run, Wylie came up against some of the best forwards in the game, holding the likes of Lee Brennan and Paul Geaney scoreless. All-Star winner, Ian Burke, only managed one point against him.
Wylie admits that the challenge of marking these forwards is one he always looks forward to.
“They’re the same as us. They’re just another person – they have two arms, two legs like I do. Both of us just go out and the forward’s job is to score and my job is to stop him scoring. One of us is going to lose out one way or another.”
“I don’t really change anything. It’s a good old battle though if you’re marking somebody and their prime objective is to get a score. You get a few tasty battles during the year – that’s the exciting thing about it.”
He won’t have long to wait for one of those “tasty battles”. Monaghan face Dublin in their Allianz National League opener in Clones in two weeks time. Given the fact that it has been five months since they exited the Championship, Wylie is already itching for the throw-in.
“The All-Ireland champions for the last four times in a row coming to your home patch, it’s always a special feeling. Dublin always bring so much support with them. Hopefully, as well, we’ll have a decent crowd of Monaghan supporters. I don’t think there’s a better ground, personally, than Clones when it’s full.”
“I’m really looking forward to it, just to get the whole thing back underway. It’s been a long winter.”
The inter-county famine is about to end, giving way to a nine-week feast of Allianz Football League action between the weekend after next and the four divisional finals in Croke Park on March 30/31. The exciting programme features 116 games across the four divisions in a campaign which will mark the 27th year of Allianz’ partnership with the GAA as sponsor of the Allianz Leagues, making it one of the longest-running sponsorships in Irish sport. In attendance at the Allianz Football League 2019 launch in Dublin were Ryan Wylie of Monaghan, Shane Walsh of Galway and Stephen O’Brien of Kerry.