Limerick’s Cian Lynch keeps family flame burning strong

Ciarán Carey’s nephew is eager to make an impact in first championship season

Cian Lynch may not be the obvious candidate to retell the tale of Limerick's famous Munster hurling semi-final win over Clare in 1996, although he was there alright, aged about six months, in the arms of his mother Valerie.

Clare were defending All-Ireland champions, red hot favourites, and poised for victory, until Limerick brilliantly triumphed at the death – thanks to the now legendary fetch, run and winning point from captain Ciarán Carey. So unfolded the slightly less legendary tale of Valerie throwing her infant son into the air, and very nearly missing him on the way down.

Lynch naturally laughs about that now, given he’s lived to tell the tale. There was also a perfectly good reason for his mother’s enthusiastic celebration, given that Carey is her brother. Lynch is particularly proud of the Carey connection, not just of Ciarán but Pa Carey too, who also starred with Limerick in the 1990s.

Mascot “Growing up, I was always going watching the uncles play,


” says Lynch.

“And I remember in 2003, the last time the club [Patrickswell] won the county final, I was mascot, and Pa was captain, with another uncle, Kevin, also on the team. That was a treat. So my uncles were definitely role models for me.

“They have been very good, and before any big matches, Ciarán would send a text saying the best of luck and stay focused.”

Now, 19 years later, Lynch is poised to make his own mark on the senior Limerick team – and may well feature against Clare in Sunday’s Munster quarter-final at Semple Stadium. He was captain of the Limerick minors last year (who lost the All-Ireland final to Kilkenny), and senior manager TJ Ryan has already given him several runs in the league this season. Lynch’s speed and skill around the half-forward line would be a useful addition to any team.

“I have never played senior championship,” he says, “but all the older lads tell me that it’s a different game, so much quicker. Clare are coming in under the radar and they’ll be strong and raring to go.”

Lynch only has to look at one of his Clare opponents, Shane O’Donnell, to realise how quickly a name can be made at senior level, even if O’Donnell admits he’s now keen to ensure 2013 wasn’t a one-season wonder, having missed all of Clare’s championship campaign last summer.

“God, I think it was the worst year I’ve ever put down,” says O’Donnell.

"It was very difficult to take. Especially the senior game we lost to Wexford, then the Wednesday after I came on against Tipp [in the under-21] for 10 minutes. So I was nearly back, one more game and I'd have been back. It made for a long year, a very long year.

“And before I got injured [he tore his hamstring], I felt my hurling was going well. I’d an infinite pool of confidence from the All-Ireland the year before. I don’t know, I just thought it would roll off and get into a game and go from there.

“It was a very stop-start year, very frustrating. And I was getting called a one-day wonder a long time last year. But anyone who thinks that is wrong. It takes so many games to try to win an All-Ireland.”

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics