A year cracking the big time, Cian Lynch has only good complaints
One of hurling’s great talents graduated to a central role in Limerick’s historic achievement
Limerick hurler Cian Lynch with hockey international Nikki Evans and and fitness instructor, Roz Purcell and an event to promote World Egg Day on Monday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
It’s pushing five months ago, now. Cian Lynch was being interviewed a few days after Limerick hurlers had sounded the first warning of the summer by defeating Tipperary in the first championship round in Munster. Asked about the prospect of maintaining momentum from winning two All-Ireland under-21 titles in three years, he was upbeat.
“You’d hope that would be the natural process but it’s not always as straight as that. Back in the 2000s, we’d good under-21s but never really pushed on to winning at senior level. I know we’d a great win last week but things are very open still. We’re hoping we can keep it up and keep the confidence going.
“The big aim is to try and win something but it doesn’t happen overnight, either.”
On Monday at the launch of the Bórd Bia promotion for the slightly surreal World Egg Day, Lynch was reflecting on a championship that had hatched the most dramatic plot in 45 years for Limerick: All-Ireland champions for the first time since 1973 and Lynch nominated for Hurler of the Year.
There are complications. He didn’t line up further career moves in terms of post-graduate teaching qualifications and is considering his next move in the months ahead. But these are temporary issues, which he swats away with a phrase used several times during the interview.
“It’s a great complaint.”
He already seems a veteran. Despite being just 22, this has been his fourth senior championship and he has progressed from being a conspicuously talented ball player to a key figure, capable of integrating his phenomenal technique into the team game, which he successfully did at centrefield all season for the champions.
Is there a danger that it will be impossible to re-scale the heights he has conquered at such a young age?
“Jeez, when you’re playing hurling you always want to strive for better and you always want to improve things. Even on an individual level, start putting in more tackles, getting on more ball and then that might benefit the whole team in broader terms.
“But for us, we’re not going to look beyond the club championship at the moment (his club Patrickswell are in the county semi-finals). When that’s finished we’ll get back training and get back to the grind because at the end of the day there’s no point sitting back thinking ‘this is it now, there’s no point driving on.’”
He is well aware that despite having dominated outgoing champions Galway in the All-Ireland final, an earthquake of a comeback left Limerick hanging on and hoping that Joe Canning wouldn’t score that free at the end.
“I know in the last few minutes that they started coming back at us and kept going but I’d say if we’d lost it would have been hard to come back but that’s the joys of sport. Anything could happen on any given day, especially this year: you saw teams in the championship winning by eight, nine, 10 points at one stage and it would come back to a point or two by the end of the game.
“For us it hasn’t entered our head because we got over the line but I presume if we had lost it would have been hard to bounce back because you can see how losing a final or a big game does haunt teams for a long time but thank God, we got over the line.”
In a report published last month by the ESRI, according to inter-county players surveyed, average input into an elite career is clocking in at 31 hours. For Lynch there’s no surprise in that.
It’s great. It’s a good complaint; it’s great to be able to do it. There’s plenty of people out there that mightn’t be fortunate enough to do it.
“That would probably be the minimum for most lads. Sure if you’re not doing a group session you’re doing your own gym session or your own ball wall session.
“It’s great. It’s a good complaint; it’s great to be able to do it. There’s plenty of people out there that mightn’t be fortunate enough to do it. It is demanding, even for lads there like Séamus Hickey and Tom Condon, with kids, and girlfriends and married, they’re going from work probably eight to five and then straight to training and home and mightn’t see their kid because they’d be in bed.”
He’s quick though to knock on the head suggestions that he was able to be a ‘professional’ athlete this summer.
“Ah, no. I was tipping away on the site with a fella down the road, just working away.”
Neither is he about to follow in the footsteps of Wexford’s Lee Chin, who stopped working for a while to concentrate on hurling.
“Jaysus, no! I wouldn’t be able. The way hurling’s gone lads need to put in so much time that it’s hard to work but I need to, to make a few bob. Fill the oul’ pockets!”