Limerick driven by "playing the game we love" says skipper Cian Lynch

Cian Lynch won his fifth All-Ireland with Limerick last season
Cian Lynch won his fifth All-Ireland with Limerick last season Cian Lynch won his fifth All-Ireland with Limerick last season

SAY what you like about backroom teams and budgets, Limerick skipper Cian Lynch says the success of his county is driven by fellowship within the group and an enduring love for playing the game.

Whether it’s playing out on the street, or Patrickswell, his club since infancy, or with the Treatymen he captained to a National League and Liam MacCarthy Cup double last year, the joy the game brings is the driving force for Lynch.

Lynch cracked over two points in last month’s All-Ireland final as Limerick completed a four in-a-row with an awesome performance against Kilkenny, equalling the record held jointly by Cork (1941-1944) and Kilkenny (2006-2009) in doing so. It’s a given that John Kiely’s men will be doing all they can to break new ground next season, but Lynch insists that every season “takes on a life of its own”.

“You start off the year trying to push yourself on an individual level,” he said.

“You want to enjoy your sport, enjoy your hurling and that’s all we’re doing – we’re enjoying playing the game we love.

“There’s very little between any of the teams whether it’s the Munster Championship or the Leinster Championship. We were just blessed that things started to go our way this year, we got over the line and we’re grateful for it.

“I just love hurling whether it’s with Patrickswell or during Covid playing a bit out on the road, or representing Limerick… I just love the game; I love playing it.

“If things go my way, great, if they don’t you have to be grateful you can get up in the morning and go out and play sport. You have to be grateful for all of those things because they won’t last forever.”

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After missing out on the 2022 All-Ireland due to an ankle injury, Lynch knows how fleeting success can be. He says he wants to “keep driving things on” in a tight-knit Limerick group.

“You are surrounded by great people in the backroom staff and great people players-wise,” he said.

“We don’t look at it (about being champions) we just go training and enjoy our sport, embrace each other and have the craic. That’s the main thing.

“We just focus on the game and ourselves, training and pushing each other as much as we can.

“When the final whistle goes on the day of the final, you enjoy that and the days that follow but it’s straight back into it with the club and you don’t get time to reflect and dwell on it. Obviously, it’s unbelievable, a great few days, a great year and whatever but you want to push things on with your club and there’ll be plenty of time to reflect in the midst of the winter when the evenings are dark and the fire is on.

“At the moment I want to keep driving things on.”

In 2022, Lynch wasn’t even able to tog-out as Limerick saw off determined Kilkenny by two points. Then skipper Declan Hannon led him up the steps of the Hogan Stand to accept the Liam MacCarthy and Lynch fittingly repaid the compliment this year when he invited Hannon - who missed out with injury – to join him.

“You spend all your whole life hoping to get to these days – All-Ireland finals – and to have that taken away is hard,” he said.

“My ambition was to bring Declan up those steps and do exactly what he did for me last year because it was a moment I’ll never forget when I lifted the cup with him. It was important to do that.

“My perspective was just to enjoy every bit of it because I never knew what it was like to have it all taken away from you.

“From four or five years’ of age, every day I was playing sport and then last year that routine just stopped. You’re not able to release that steam after a long day and so I just said to myself: ‘It’s time to go out and relax and just enjoy these moments and live for today because no-one knows what tomorrow might bring.”