Cian Lynch’s last two All-Ireland final weekends couldn’t have been more different.
From the ecstasy of helping to guide Limerick to long-awaited glory in 2018, there was the agony this year of being sent off for lashing out at former county team-mate Gavin O’Mahony while playing with Patrickswell in a crucial round-robin championship game against Kilmallock.
Lynch looks back on the incident with regret. Might it have had something to do with the frustration of losing that All-Ireland semi-final to Kilkenny?
“You set standards individually and as an inter-county group and when things don’t go well you can get frustrated and niggling thoughts can start to seep in but a moment of madness like that (getting sent off) makes you regroup and rethink and it gives you perspective.
“You want to get back on the horse and drive on and you’re striving to do better. Dublin have set that example with how they keep coming back.
“You know yourself in sport and especially in hurling these things happened but I know it was a silly decision by me to lash out.”
Lynch and Aaron Gillane — who sustained a nasty jaw injury in that draw with Kilmallock — both returned for the semi-final where they defeated Doon and set up tomorrow’s decider date with Na Piarsaigh.
It’s only three seasons since Patrickswell bridged a 13-year gap to their previous county success when they dismissed neighbours Ballybrown but that victory now seems like ancient history to Lynch.
Ask him why Patrickswell haven’t pushed on from it and apart from the obvious shadow caused by Na Piarsaigh, he says: “Limerick club hurling is of a high standard and there’s usually only going to be a puck of a ball between teams on any given day. At the same time, we won it last in 2016 but that feels like a lifetime away. We just have to keep the heads down and focus on bringing the best we can bring to the final. Reaching the final is a massive achievement for us and we know Na Piarsaigh are very strong.”
Lynch needs no reminding of what has gone before him in the blue and gold but he’s more determined to carve out his own piece of history than try and emulate those great teams of the past.
“You’ve Gary (Kirby), the Bennises, the Careys, the Foleys… I could go on. There is a massive tradition and massive standards and it’s still great to go into the clubhouse and see the photos from the past. But for ourselves it’s about creating our own legacy and story. Please God we can do that.”
He continued: “We have massive tradition and there has always been great under-age teams coming through the club. If you can get five or six lads pushing on from every under-age group into the senior set-up it would be great especially for a small village like Patrickswell. I mean small in numbers because there is rugby and soccer so it can be hard to compete at times. For kids to see Limerick and the club doing well gives us massive hope that great things will come.”
Working alongside Limerick captain Declan Hannon in recruitment company Unijobs while taking a Hibernia primary teaching course, it’s difficult to believe Lynch is still only 23 having made his Limerick senior debut in 2015. He was able to devote himself completely to hurling in the past but knows he has to plan for his future. “There are people out there who don’t have the opportunities I have as a hurler so I cherish them and appreciate them. What comes your way, you have to seize the day.”
Against Na Piarsaigh, that’s easier said than done but it’s safe to say friendships will be parked tomorrow afternoon. “They’ve a great panel of players there and have put in a massive effort at under-age down through the years. We’d be friendly with a lot of them through Limerick panels and Ardscoil Rís but at the end of the day when you’re back with your club it’s every man for himself and you go out and do the best for your team.”
Cian Lynch last week launched the improved PwC All-Stars app