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'It was an honour' - 5 years since teenage Cian Lynch's stunning debut against Clare

Lynch and Limerick face the Banner again this weekend as the Munster hurling championship kicks-off.

A teenage Cian Lynch during his championship debut against Clare.
A teenage Cian Lynch during his championship debut against Clare.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FIVE YEARS AGO in May, Cian Lynch made his bow on the senior inter-county stage.

A hotshot underage talent who helped Limerick reach the All-Ireland minor final in 2014, Lynch was catapulted straight into TJ Ryan’s panel the following season.

His first taste of championship fare arrived against neighbours Clare, who Limerick face again this weekend in a game that doubles up as the Division 1 league final and Munster quarter-final.

He started out as a corner-forward, joining Shane Dowling and Graeme Mulcahy on the last line of attack. The Patrickswell youngster looked at home from the moment he set foot on the Semple Stadium turf.

He clipped over three points that afternoon and hasn’t looked back since.

“I suppose it’s your dream as a young fella to represent your county,” he recalls. “I was lucky enough to start that game, things went well with the team and we got the win.

“That’s always the most important thing to look at in sport, the end result for the team rather than anything on an individual basis.

“It was great to get your debut and to play with lads like Donal O’Grady, Jim Bob (James Ryan), all these lads that are absolute staunch Limerick legends. It was an honour.

“That’s the special thing about the GAA, I always allude to looking up to the likes of Seamus Hickey, Declan Hannon, Shane Dowling.

“Especially Dec and Shane when they were playing in the Harty Cup in Ard Scoil Ris and then all of a sudden, you end up playing with them on the school team. It’s dreams being fulfilled and you have to be grateful to play with these guys, they’re massive people.”

On Sunday Clare will be down a number of guaranteed starters.

Colm Galvin (groin injury), Podge Collins (playing with Clare footballers), John Conlon (knee injury) and Peter Duggan (in Australia) are all absent, but Lynch remains wary of their challenge.

“We know Clare very well, a lot of us have gone to school with the lads as well which is massive,” he says.

littlewoods-ireland-hurling-championship-launch-2020 Cian Lynch pictured at the launch of the Littlewoods Ireland 2020 ‘Style Meets Substance’ campaign. Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

“But we just have to go out and focus on ourselves and give Clare the utmost respect that they deserve because they’re a great team and we’ve had many battles down through the last three to four years. So it’s just getting out and pushing one another.

“I’m just focusing on living in the now and living day-by-day and that’s the main point I’ve taken from this whole thing, is just focusing on now and doing what we can do now and controlling the controllables rather than worrying about what might happen down the line.”

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Since arriving on the scene, Lynch has established himself as one of the game’s elite midfielders. He’s already won pretty much every honour in the game: the Fitzgibbon Cup (twice), All-Ireland, Munster, National League and a Limerick SHC medal, with his individual haul including Hurler of the Year and All-Star gongs.

He’s also a man who goes by the beat of his own drum off-the-field.

A teetotaler all his life, Lynch is also a devout Catholic and admits he missed being able to attend mass when the first lockdown arrived back in March.

cian-lynch Lynch after a Limerick SHC game with Patrickswell in the summer. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

He has always said that his faith helped keep him grounded during his meteoric rise as a hurler. It helped too when the pandemic shut down the GAA nationwide.

“You’d just get up in the morning and go for a little walk and listen to a bit of mass there, the local priest used to say it online.

“It was kind of a grounding for me personally and it would set me up for the day. It’d take away any worries you might have too. You can get so engrossed or so consumed by everything that’s going on, social media or whatever it might be but that grounding, I’m grateful that I have faith.

“Faith can come in different ways for different people but it’s just looking at it as a light at the end of the tunnel and it can focus the mind and that too.”

Lynch worked with Unijobs recruitment agency this year before recently starting studying a Master’s in NUIG. He plans on becoming a religion and geography teacher.

“It was always something I wanted to go down, to get involved with kids or young adults and teaching is the way to do it. I’ve always had a passion for religion and geography and especially religion – faith is something we can all hold onto now and grasp with two hands.

“During the lockdown, when mass was stopped, it was something I kind of looked to saying a few prayers just to keep the positive vibes and positivity going and that’s important for any young person.”

Like many, he hasn’t physically met any of his lecturers or fellow students yet.

“It’s all remote in college with calls like this, which is hard enough I suppose, you’re not meeting your fellow students, not getting your night out, do you know, the normal things that would help you get to know your fellow students and the subjects too even.

“But that’s the current climate and please God over the next few months, we’ll get to tip in there for a lecture or whatever.”

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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