Limerick’s Cian Lynch upholding proud family tradition

With not a scintilla of embarrassment or prompting, Cian Lynch regales you with the story of what happened to him the time his uncle Ciaran Carey fired over one of hurling’s most iconic scores. 

Lynch might only have been five months and 14 days old that day Limerick knocked out the All-Ireland champions Clare, but he’s been told ample times what he was doing at the very moment.

“The mother (Valerie) always tells a great story,” he smiles. “Ciaran got a point against Clare to win the match. I was only born in ’96 and I was on her breast, taking milk, and she threw me up. She forgot to catch me! I don’t remember that now!”

Lynch’s father Sean is a Loughmore-Castleiney man but there has never been any conflicted allegiances in his household. He’s watched Carey’s wondrous winning point back ad nauseam but with the benefit of the radio commentary. “Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh’s commentary makes it. It’s brilliant.”

The 19-year-old’s memories of his famed uncle in action are scant although he can recall him lining out in Patrickswell’s 2003 success. “The last time we won the county final, I was mascot and another uncle was captain. That was a treat. That was Paul Carey and he would have won it with Kevin and Ciaran — a few of them on the team. It was a treat for me; these were my role models and my uncles.”

Kevin, he says, has been the most influential on him. “He used to take me to matches, take me out the back for a puck around. Harmless stuff and he’d be giving me advice and being young you’d take it on board and remember it. They have been very good and even before big matches Ciaran would send a text saying the best of luck and stay focused.”

Lynch became a bit of a YouTube hit two years ago when his contribution to the “I Am Hurling” freestyle competition drew over 16,000 hits. In the back garden of his family home, he pulls off a variety of skills but would he ever try and emulate Carey either there or in a game? “I haven’t. I’ll stay away from it. I’d be creamed, I’d say.”

That’s not to say he hasn’t been ambitious in Limerick colours: against Cork in the Waterford Crystal final in Mallow, he pulled off a Kevin Broderick-esque solo, pushing the ball over a Cork defender’s head before collecting it on the other side and proceeding to send it over the bar. It was one of four points for him that evening.

His open, affable nature is refreshing. He still has the rat’s tail, now two years’ growing: “I don’t know how someone hasn’t pulled it off yet.” But he’s humble enough to know were it not for Kilmallock’s run to the All-Ireland final and injuries, he may not be in the shake-up for a starting spot on Sunday.

He may have the red hair, the lineage and the quality having starred for the minors as captain last year but everything was left behind walking into the dressing room for the first time.

“The last few years you are looking at these lads, the likes of Shane Dowling and Declan Hannon, you are looking up to these lads and thinking ‘Will I ever play with them?’ and six months later you are in the same dressing room looking around.

"They are all sound, they have been very good, bring you in, puck around and give you advice about how to fit in properly. Everyone is on the same boat.”

Only Lynch, though, will be able to prepare himself for the step up in temperature against Clare on Sunday. “In minors, you get the ball and you have time to look around. In senior, if you look left or right you’re getting a slap.

"It’s the speed and the physicality; you have to be much quicker on the ball and aware of your surroundings. You just have to play your usual game, speed it up and be ready. If you’re not focused, you could get a slap or you could be getting the line straight away.”

An excellent soccer player, Dublin club St Kevin’s asked him to join them having been impressed by his performance for Mungret when the sides met in a competition in Galway. “Being young and naive I said ‘yeah, no bother.’ I didn’t see the long journeys or the up and down the road. So we did it for two years anyway, up and down.”

There he played with Jack Byrne, who is now training with Manchester City’s first team, having impressed for Patrick Vieira’s U19 team.

The pair keep in touch via Facebook and Lynch, now studying an arts degree in Mary Immaculate College, admits he does miss playing the game. Last year, he missed an Republic of Ireland U17 trial as it clashed with preparations for the Munster minor final with Waterford.

“I had to make a decision,” he says. The first dividend for that choice reveals itself on Sunday.

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