Derry football star Mark Lynch retires from inter-county action
DERRY football's re-building process must continue without the player their current boss describes as "a manager’s dream" - namely Mark Lynch.
The Banagher clubman has confirmed his retirement from the inter-county stage after 15 years on the senior scene, during which time he served - and led - the Oak Leafers with determination and distinction.
The man himself admitted "it breaks my heart" to think that he won't don the red and white again but expressed confidence that Derry are on the up again:
Speaking about his retirement Mark Lynch said: “As someone who grew up wanting to represent my club and county, I feel privileged that I got the chance to do both.
“But there is a time for everything and, with current family and work commitments, now feels like the right time for me to retire from county football and devote those extra energies to other areas of my life.
“I thank my family, club, all the players, coaches, managers, and support teams who have made my county career possible.
“Playing for Derry was something I always enjoyed and it breaks my heart to think I won’t do it again. For me there was always a real buzz wearing the red and white and representing my county, my club, and my community.
“There are a lot of talented young footballers with bright futures coming through in Derry. I remember myself the step up from minor to senior level and how it forced me to really work and develop all areas of my game.
"We need to give this latest crop the same space, opportunity and encouragement. I wish Damian McErlain and all the squad every success for the season ahead. I look forward to going with my family to support the lads because that’s what people did for me."
Manager McErlain was, quite rightly effusive in his praise of the always committed Lynch, saying: “Mark Lynch is a class act who has given unstinting service to Derry football for many years. He was a manager’s dream and a role model who made a real positive impact on all the players around him.
“In addition to his physical presence and skill, Mark also has a great footballing brain. Whether it was kicking long range points or those trademark surging runs, Mark Lynch was always a leader. He was someone you always wanted on the ball.
"Mark will be missed but we wish him well in the next chapter of his life.”
A spokesman for Derry GAA made clear the county's gratitude to the modest yet versatile Lynch: “When Mark Lynch arrived on the football scene it was clear that he was a young player with immense potential.
“An All-Ireland minor winner in 2002 at 16 years-of-age, Mark was always an exceptional player. His progression from minor to senior ranks was testament to this, with Mickey Moran handing him his senior debut in 2004.
“If you say the name 'Mark Lynch' people across county Derry would maybe say: 'strong, powerful, natural, versatile, accurate, intelligent, modest, dedicated, team player, and leader'. Every single description is correct.
“Mark Lynch always stood up, never stepped back, and always made an impact on the pitch no matter where he played. Any team with Mark in it was the better for it.
“Mark is more than just a quality footballer, he is an honest, genuine person who has given many years service to Derry and for that we are forever grateful.
“We wish Mark and his wife Bernie and their young family every health and happiness in the future.”