Clare's Lynch retires as an All-Ireland winner

Lynch, centre, celebrating victory following the All-Ireland final.

Tributes have been paid to Fergal Lynch, the longest-serving member on Clare's 2013 All-Ireland SHC winning panel, after he announced his retirement from inter-county hurling.

Lynch's last game for the county saw him come on as a blood sub for hat-trick hero Shane O'Donnell during last Saturday's final replay victory over Cork at Croke Park.

Confirming his decision to bow out with the Banner men, the 30-year-old Clooney-Quin clubman told the Clare Champion: "Definitely calling it day. That's the end of it now. A good way to go.

"I got a bit of a teaser when I came on as a blood sub. I was coming on again with four minutes to go and then Cork got the goal and things changed. But these things happen. It's an occasion for everybody."

The veteran forward might not have had too much of an influence on Clare's All-Ireland journey on the pitch, but his efforts in training and behind the scenes were of vital importance - something which shines through in some of his team-mates' tweets about him today.

Defender Brendan Bugler tweeted: "Pleasure to have soldiered with Fergal Lynch through bad times and good. #legend #leader #gent #nightmaretomark."

Darach Honan, who scored Clare's fifth and final goal in the replay, said on Twitter: "Congrats to Fergal Lynch on great career. Will be hugely missed, great leader and banter. Who will mind Sean Collins? #teamofbachelorsagain."

A tweet from Colin Ryan, Clare's ever reliable free-taker, read: "Fergal Lynch, what a leader. Easy to quit when things are going badly, but he stuck it out and got the reward. #leader #fullydeserving."

Conor McGrath, another of the Banner's goalscorers last weekend, added: "Huge congrats to Fergal Lynch on his retirement. By far the most deserving of Saturday's win and always a great example to me and all the panel."

Domhnall O'Donovan, the scorer of the equalising point in the drawn game, was slightly Pope John Paul II-esque when tweeting: "Fergal Lynch of Clooney, we love you!", while fellow defender David McInerney remains hopeful they can convince Lynch to change his mind: "I reckon we could convince him to stay yet #bigdaddycantleave."

Lynch was in and around the Clare panel before making his senior Championship debut against Cork in the 2005 All-Ireland semi-final. He went on to play in 23 Championship matches - including six appearances off the bench this year.

The Quin National School principal was actually the only married man on the largely youthful Clare squad this season, with 28-year-old duo Patrick Donnellan and Brendan Bugler the closest to him in age.

Reflecting on the All-Ireland win, Lynch admitted: "It's just a surreal moment. It's something I have dreamed about since I was a young fella and my father handed me a hurley.

"Thankfully it has come true. I was looking back at the last 11 years that I've been involved and I thought I might never see this day. It's just an unbelievable moment."

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald also gave a special mention to Lynch amid the All-Ireland celebrations, praising a player who has had to put up with some harsh criticism during his career.

"I want to say this publicly, Fergal Lynch gets a doing in Clare from supporters that is so unjust and so unfair. They do not realise his value to the Clare team," explained Fitzgerald.

"Fergal Lynch is so, so immense (for us). As a leader, the boys adore him. He gets them going when he comes on the team and changes them again.

"He is a super guy. People are wrong. I am certain people are wrong. And I just want to say that publicly Fergal Lynch is a special guy and deserves a lot of singling out."

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