Mixed emotions for Limerick player’s family

Cian Lynch lost his uncle last month after a crash in Dubai

Limerick supporters  Mike Houlihan from  Kilmallock, who wishes he could go   to the All-Ireland final. Photograph:  Brendan Gleeson

Limerick supporters Mike Houlihan from Kilmallock, who wishes he could go to the All-Ireland final. Photograph: Brendan Gleeson

 

Sean Lynch, whose son, Cian will line out tomorrow in the All-Ireland hurling final against Waterford, has been living a quiet life for months in a bid to ensure that Covid-19 was not only kept out of the family home, but out of the squad.

“We have all been in a bubble,” says the retired Limerick Garda detective and former Fianna Fáil Limerick metropolitan mayor. Like other players’ relatives is “disappointed” that none of them will be in Croke Park on Sunday.

“It’s bittersweet, it’s low-key, it’s not the norm. You want to be there, smell the atmosphere, you want to be able to almost touch the grass, shout and roar,” he told The Irish Times.

Surely to God, four or five members of each of the players’ families should be able to attend a stadium able to accommodate over 80,000 people

Players’ parents, not just in Limerick, but in Waterford, too, have played a “huge role” to ensure that they have remained Covid-19-free “so that hurling can survive the pandemic.

“Surely to God, four or five members of each of the players’ families should be able to attend a stadium able to accommodate over 80,000 people,” said the Patrickswell man, who will watch the game on TV at home.

The day will be one of “mixed emotions” for the family. Cian’s uncle, Paul Carey died in a traffic incident in Dubai last month, “It will be extra emotional because of Cian losing his uncle, and my wife Valerie losing her brother.

‘The return of the MacCarthy’

“But all we can do is wish all the players the very best – they are heroes, regardless of whether they win, lose, or draw,” he went on, saying the return of the MacCarthy “will be the best ever Christmas present for all”.

Given that people have been asked to stay at home, homes and businesses across the county have been decorated more fully this year in bunting, flags, jerseys, and paint.

Though the atmosphere surrounding the final is like no other year, businessman, John Fitzgerald contributed to the mood by erecting giant 12m by 9m Limerick flags.

“There was rallying call to green up the city so we have obliged. Sure, it’s great to support the team,” said Fitzgerald, who gave out 5,000 flags in Croke Park for the 2018 semi-final “to try to green the place up.

“But we ended up getting on the wrong side of the Croke Park officials a little bit, but sure we won’t mind that. They gave out to us as we were not supposed to do what we did, but sure we got away with it anyway.”

Pat Carroll, a caretaker in his local sports hall, in Croom, has been dusting off a sombrero that has become famous during decades on the terraces. Hopeful of a win, he believes “Limerick will shade it by two or three points”.

Fake All-Ireland final

Mr O’Connell or “The Bog” as he’s affectionately known, has recently appeared as himself in a video of a fake All-Ireland final staged on the Main Street in Croom in which the Treaty men romped home to victory over the Deise.

“Since I’ve been old enough to lift a hurley, it has consumed my life, I’d nearly give up work if I could go to matches every day,” says O’Connell, who is hopeful that this generation of Limerick players can keep winning: “We should win at least five out of the next six finals, maybe we’ll allow Waterford one here or there.”

Team Limerick Clean-Up, an initiative funded by Limerick philanthropist and hurling obsessive JP McManus, who also sponsors Limerick GAA, has tweeted videos of stars from the Limerick 1973 All-Ireland winning team, offering their support for a victory on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Irish rugby legend, Paul O’Connell, who could have played county hurling before he opted for rugby, offered his praise to the current crop of Limerick stars: “Your skill, professionalism, absolute bloody-mindedness when your play, is a real joy to watch, and makes us all so proud to be from Limerick.”