GAA Football

Mark Lynch was outstanding player of his generation - Adrian McGuckin

Mark Lynch in action for Derry against Offaly during a National League game at Celtic Park earlier this year Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

THE influence of Mark Lynch will be a major loss to the Derry panel in their quest for immediate promotion from the National Football League’s basement division, according to his former coach and teacher Adrian McGuckin.

The Banagher clubman announced his retirement from inter-county football yesterday after 15 years of service to the Oak Leaf senior set-up. McGuckin, who coached Lynch at both St Patrick’s, Maghera and Ulster University, Jordanstown, had nothing but praise for his former pupil yesterday.

“He’ll be a massive loss for Derry. They’ll find it hard to replace the personality that he has and the leadership that he possesses,” said McGuckin last night.

“I’m certain that all the boys in whatever squad he played in always looked up to him, not just as a footballer, but as a person. I can’t emphasise enough the great lad that he is and how humble and down to earth that he is, despite the great ability that he has and the achievements he has had, it never ever phased him, he was just still Mark.

“I suppose with Derry now in Division Four, the management would have liked a player of the calibre of Mark to pull them out of where they are at the moment with the leadership skills that he has. They’ve would’ve wanted him, but I’ve feeling that Mark made the right decision, he works in his family business, he has a young family and playing for county and all that there just doesn’t go hand-in-hand.

“Certainly, Derry will be missing him, but they’ll have to learn and somebody else will have to take on the leadership mantle.”

Lynch burst onto the national stage in 2002 when he won an All-Ireland Minor title with Derry, before going on to contribute to MacRory, Hogan and Sigerson cup successes under the tutelage of McGuckin.

“Mark has given virtually all of his sporting life to Derry and there’s nobody has been more loyal to Derry over the last 14, 16 years,” the former Oak Leaf senior coach added.

“I taught him in school. The first thing you would have to say about Mark is that he’s just a brilliant person, one of the real nice people like all the Lynch family that have went through St Pat’s, Maghera.

“He wasn’t long in making his mark on the football field, and on the hurling field as well. He was as adept at hurling as he was at football.

“I think he got man of the match in the MacRory Cup final whenever we beat St Mary’s, Magherafelt in 2003. We won the Hogan Cup that year as well and Mark played a starring role in that too, against a St Jarlath’s team that included some star players. He was the captain of the team at that time, in his lower sixth year.

“He was the outstanding colleges’ player at that stage in Ulster, if not Ireland.”

When Lynch graduated to university, he managed to overcome the disappointment of losing the Sigerson Cup final in 2007 to captain Jordanstown to the trophy the following year, and his commitment to the cause was something that always stood out for his coach.

“He was captain of the Sigerson team that was so unlucky to be beaten in 2007. I felt very sorry for Mark that particular day as captain,” McGuckin said.

“Then, the following year, we won the Sigerson, with Mark playing a starring role as usual. The one thing that always stood out with Mark, whatever team he played for, whether it was St Pat’s in Maghera, Jordanstown, Banager or Derry, he always played for the jersey.

“Mark wasn’t one that gave you the impression that he was doing anything for himself, that he was playing for himself. He never wanted to enhance his own reputation; every time he went out, he was playing for the team that he was playing for.

“No matter what jersey he was wearing, he gave it his all, he gave it 100 per cent in every facet of the game that you could ask of him.”


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