'It was my own choice. Nobody ever told me not to drink, I just never got into it'

Limerick midfielder Cian Lynch discusses being a teetotaler, his strong faith and his memories from their All-Ireland success.

CIAN LYNCH DOESN’T drink, so it’s fair to say he probably remembers more of Limerick’s Liam MacCarthy Cup celebrations than a fair few of his team-mates. 

“I see too much,” he laughs. 

Players pose for a selfie taken by Cian Lynch Cian Lynch / INPHO Cian Lynch / INPHO / INPHO

The 22-year-old is unique in that he is a teetotaler and a devout Catholic, attending mass on a weekly basis at home in Patrickswell. 

The urge to drink was never there as a youngster, with Lynch instead preferring to hone his skills on the sporting field. 

“I never got into the whole thing. When I was 15 or 16 and other lads were testing it, I would have been playing soccer or hurling. I’d have been hitting the ball off the wall and I wouldn’t find a reason to go have a drink. I’d always go for a puck, and meet the lads down the road and hit a few balls.

“It’s what you’re introduced to or what you choose. It was my own choice, nobody ever told me not to drink I just never got into it. It could have been a different story if I got into it, it’s just different paths in life.

“It is hard in that sense, nobody would ever text you saying, ‘Would you come down for a pint?’ The black sheep. I still go out, Jesus, I go out as much as anyone, I’d stay out till all hours of the night but I think it’s ideal to be able to hop into the car then and drive home.

“It is hard at times, you’re in a pub all day, and the lads are all drinking – it is hard to try and stay there and stay a part of the craic. But sure when lads are drunk they don’t know what’s going on so you can sneak away whenever.”

Cian Lynch and Aaron Gillane lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup for the crowd TommyDickson / INPHO TommyDickson / INPHO / INPHO

There are certain images from the hours and days following the All-Ireland victory seared into his brain. 

The day after the final, the team arrived off the train in Limerick’s Colbert Station on to an unexpected crowd. “We knew the Gaelic Grounds was going to be packed but to see the people’s faces – old people crying and kids bawling their eyes out. It kind of puts it all into perspective and what it means to the people of Limerick.”

Bringing the MacCarthy Cup out in front of thousands of people in the Gaelic Grounds was another unforgettable rush. “To hear Dolores O’Riordan’s song playing all over it was just special,” he says. “Words can’t really describe what it felt like. It was unreal.”

And of course, there was the famous hug he shared with his mother on the field shortly after the final whistle, what he describes as a “moment of safety” as he tried to catch his breath. 

“Your parents are always that safeguard. People forget that without families a lot of this wouldn’t be possible.”

Cian Lynch celebrates with his mother Valerie celebrate after the game James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Lynch’s strong faith comes from his family too. His mother Valeria, is sister of Treaty legend Ciaran Carey, His father, Seán, is a Tipperary native from the Loughmore Castleiney club.

“We don’t say that too loudly now around,” he jokes about his Premier roots. 

In an era when young adults are turning away from religion in their droves, Lynch finds that his Catholic faith helps keep him grounded in the good times and the bad. 

“There are six of us in my family, my father and mother brought us to mass every Sunday. If it was a feast day, we’d be in mass to celebrate it or we might say a few prayers. But every Sunday, I’d be down for mass.

“If it’s down to Ballybrown for 10am mass or Patrickswell for 11.30am mass, I’d be there. For me, it’s a bit of a structure in my life. When you’re on massive highs from winning or when you’re on a massive low, I say a few prayers or go to mass and it kind of brings me to level ground.

“If I could go I’d go the day of the game, but even if we were meeting early I’d go the night before. I’d be saying a few prayers at night anyway.

Cian Lynch celebrates after the game with the Liam MacCarthy Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

“I suppose it makes me prepared for the highs and lows that come with the game and mentally I think it’s great to be able to offload and that safeguard too. It comes back to family, going to mass from an early age and having structures in place.

“Our local parish priest, father Michael Cussen and Eamon Fitzgibbon – they’re A1, they’d be down at the house once a week to call in, to make sure we’re all going well. They’re mad about the hurling too.

“In all walks of life, when you’re going from massive highs – like this year, huge highs of winning an All-Ireland, then you come back to the club, you might lose – you’re back down to a low then.

“It’s just how you deal with that. For me, it’s that community spirit, going to mass or whatever. You’re inside in the church, it’s a bit of a grounding.”

The focus has turned back to club action for Lynch in recent weeks as his Patrickswell side face Doon in the Limerick SHC semi-final this weekend. Fellow Limerick stars Aaron Gillane and Diarmuid Byrnes are club-mates, while they’ll be going up against county team-mates Pat Ryan, Darragh O’Donovan, Barry Murphy and Richie English.

Cian Lynch, Roz Purcell and Nikki Evans Cian Lynch, Roz Purcell and Nikki Evans have partnered with Bord Bia to celebrate World Egg Day as part of the Quality Assured Eggs Campaign Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“When you’re back to your club you’re all about your club and it doesn’t matter who’s in the other team,” he says. “You could be their best friend inside with Limerick but when you’re wearing your local club colours you’re going out and you’d die for the crest. It’s great, a good bit of craic too.”

The Hurler of the Year nominee finished his undergraduate teaching degree in Mary I at the start of the summer and plans to work for a year before pursuing his Masters. 

“I decided I’ll take the year out, maybe work away. I’m tipping away on a construction site there with a lad down the road so it’ll keep me going, a bit of extra gym work. I might go back then and do the teaching next year.”

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