They will tell you in Westport he had not one, but two, well educated feet when he donned the colours of Westport United. He is the proud holder of an All-Ireland Vocational Schools senior football medal and has just been appointed Junior Minister for Tourism and Sport.
In Michael Ring I think we have a man that the sporting public can identify with, and knowing the pedigree of the Covey there is no doubt that he will give it his very best shot and tackle this job, as indeed he has every other job, with enthusiasm and drive.
Tenacious is probably the best adjective that describes the new Minister and he will need that tenacity if he is to succeed in his new portfolio. We wish him well.
Now that the compliments are finished with, Minister Ring has some serious business to attend to in order to get our sporting nation back up there again. Be it small or big, amateur or professional, we as Irish people pride ourselves on our sporting achievements and our ability to compete with the very best.
But to do so we need support – government support – and sport has not always been given the priority it deserved.
I hardly need to explain to Michael Ring the vital role sport plays in society. It transcends race, gender and creed. It is a key building block in the local community, a vital part of the fabric that binds communities together.
No doubt, too, Michael will be well aware of the benefits sport has on the physical and mental health of the nation, and the value of investment in sport, particularly at underage level, can pay dividends further down the road when many of our young people will avoid a lot of illness associated with obesity and lethargy.
The inherent dangers posed by the abuse of drink and drugs does not need to be overstated and the pressure on young people today in what is essentially a commercially driven world is huge.
The need for sport and leisure activity, for the young in particular but for the rest of us too, was never more important.
Michael Ring has a lot of challenges ahead of him to get the nation of their butt.
While your local club, whatever it may be, has a key role to play in our sporting development, the schools in my view really hold the key to the future health of our young people and the future of our nation.
Teachers have over the years given a fair share of their time, but in a world of increasing pressure on people's time, for one reason or another, there has been a significant drop off in the time given by teachers in the area of physical education and promoting sport in the schools in general. Not by all teachers and not in all schools, I hasten to add.
It was suggested that perhaps physical education be made part of the curriculum for which marks could be awarded, and that is one suggestion I would certainly go along with.
Okay, I can see parents asking about the weaker or younger children, or children that may not be physically endowed or as talented as some of their peers.
The answer to that is very simple: take a balanced approach. We are not looking to build super athletes but just to get people to see sport and leisure activity as part of everyday life and an investment that will repay a thousand fold as they older.
The minister will have his own ideas but at a time when the recession is biting hard and suicide is becoming increasingly part of daily living, if you can excuse he paradox, sport and leisure activity has to be one way of fighting back – and the school is the place to start.
Perhaps the first thing Michael could do is have a chat with the Minister for Education and the Minster for Finance and explain to both just how important it is for the country as a whole to have not only a well educated population, but a physically and mentally healthy nation.
Sport is your only man, or woman.