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'We all want to make our own bit of history, in our own jersey, with our own team'

Diarmaid Byrnes and Patrickswell face Ballygunner in the Munster SHC club semi-final on Sunday.

Diarmaid Byrnes celebrates the county final victory.
Diarmaid Byrnes celebrates the county final victory.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

HAVING DETHRONED THREE-in-a-row chasing Na Piarsaigh in the county final, the task doesn’t get any easier for Patrickswell this weekend.

The ‘Well begin a Munster club campaign for the first time in four years and provincial holders Ballygunner are their opponents in a mouth-watering semi-final.

“Massive match,” says Diarmaid Byrnes. “I’m looking forward to it now.

“You want to go out and leave a mark on Munster and make a bit of history, for yourself individually, as a group of players and most importantly for the club.

“So look, we want to put our stamp on Munster, and we’ve a massive challenge on Sunday so we’re looking forward to it.”

With All-Ireland winners Cian Lynch, Aaron Gillane and Byrnes in their ranks, there’s plenty of reason for Patrickswell to be optimistic about their chances. 

“He has been super this year,” Byrnes says of the club’s captain Lynch. “I’ve seen him put on some great shows in the green jersey and the blue and yellow jersey for Patrickswell, I’ve played alongside him since I was U10, U12 the whole way up along.

“We’d just stand back and watch his flicks or whatever he’s doing, it’s brilliant. But I’d say in an overall performance it was probably his best 60 minutes of hurling in no matter what jersey he’s playing, the last day in the Gaelic Grounds in the county final.

“The role kind of suits him, as captain. He’s been brilliant for us to be honest. Even speaking in the huddle and stuff like that, he knows what will hit the nail on the head.

“If someone’s not carrying their weight he knows how to deal with it, he wouldn’t be one for effing and blinding and getting you going, but he knows how to get the boat rolling.” 

Of course, Ballygunner – champions for the past six years in Waterford – are an extremely talented outfit too. They boast star names Pauric Mahony, Philip Mahony and Barry Coughlan, in addition to Dessie Hutchinson who is in flying form in his first full season with the club.

The former Brighton & Hove Albion soccer player landed 1-2 in their quarter-final win over Sixmilebridge and pose a major threat to the Patrickswell defence. 

“A lot of it comes down to work rate and attitude,” says Byrnes. “There will be no ball bouncing off the ground on Sunday or for the next two or three months, probably until April when it dries up again and you get going again. 

“But it comes down to work rate and having the belief that you’re going to win this ball or there’s going to be rucks every so often because the ground is so sticky, the ball is so sticky. It’s having the belief that you’re going to go in and get that ball and come out, just being dogged enough to go in there in the first place and do it.”

ciaran-carey Patrickswell manager Ciarán Carey. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Patrickswell are managed by Limerick legend Ciaran Carey, who Byrnes describes as “a gas man in the dressing room.”

He continues: “Always level-headed, always cool. But on a one-to-one basis, he’s brilliant for the players. He knows everyone individually, he knows their strengths, their weaknesses, working with players, trying to get the best out of them. He knows that as well.”

Carey was strongly linked with the vacant Galway job in recent weeks, but Byrne insists talk of their manager taking charge of the Tribesmen never reached the club. “No, we didn’t hear anything about it,” he deadpans. 

Carey was a key figure in the Patrickswell side that lifted the only two Munster crowns in their history back in 1988 and 1990. The history and winning culture in the club stretches back decades to the 1960s when they lifted the first of their 20 Limerick SHC crowns.

aer-lingus-super-11s-jersey-launch Limerick's Diarmaid Byrnes were at Dublin Airport where Aer Lingus unveiled a one-of-a-kind customised playing kit for the New York Hurling Classic. Source: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE

“When you walk into the clubhouse, to the left, there’s now 20 pictures of club champions on the wall,” explains the defender.

“We’ve (two) Munster clubs, there’s two occasions there where they got to the All-Ireland club (final). There is a history there.

“For myself involved in an inter-county team and the lads that are, and the club lads that are there, we all want to make our own bit of history, in our own jersey, with our own team. What’s done in the past is done.

“I’ve two county titles now and I want to add to that, same as the players beside me. You just want to leave your own mark on it. The pictures on the wall are from the past.

“Of the 20, I’m only involved in two, the other 18 are in the past, they are history. You want to be filling more gaps on that wall now. Make a piece of history and leave your mark on the club.” 

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Kevin O'Brien

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