Jeffrey Lynskey's pursuit of excellence
By Cian O'Connell
Two years ago when Galway won the Electric Ireland minor hurling title manager Jeffrey Lynskey spoke to the assembled media for six minutes and 39 seconds.
Galway had claimed glory with a polished performance, but Lynskey's focus was on more than collecting silverware. It was about delivering hurlers capable of operating at the highest level.
From that team Sean Loftus, Jack Grealish, and Thomas Monaghan have sampled senior action for Galway.
Manufacturing and moulding players is key according to Lynskey. "Oh definitely", Lynskey says. "We have Sean Loftus and Tom Monaghan and Jack Grealish with the seniors now so for us as a management team that’s great to see.
"Like, Tom came on in the Leinster final and did well and for us it’s saying, ‘Do you know what? It endorses what we’re doing regarding the developing side of it’, and not just the hurling side of it but off the field as well.
"Like, Tom’s teaching in Mary I now, Sean is in NUIG, I had him with the freshers this year and Jack has his own business believe it or not, he’s a bit of an entrepreneur. These are all good lads."
No huge expectation was attached to the 2015 group and Lynskey reckons the same could be argued regarding current crop at the outset of the campaign.
“Different type of player completely, hurling-wise, character-wise and the whole lot," Lynskey admits.
"The first group that we had, I probably worked with them for three years before that at 16 and 17 and 18 so I had them and knew them kind of well.
"This group, you only had a few left over from last year, completely new group. No one gave us a chance really at the start of the year.
"The word around the county is that it was a poor minor team and we addressed that with the players and told them, ‘Look, if they believed in what we’re doing and bought into it anything was possible’, and that was the case. We’re in a final now because they worked really hard."
Can that be difficult for teenagers to deal with such talk? “Yeah it is, but for us you see, because they’re Galway minors it’s very easy to show them minor teams in the past that were regarded as poor and went on to win All-Irelands and in our case it was 2015," Lynskey responds.
"It’s about storing or layering it with them and you’re building on traditional legacy over the last 20 years.
"We’re the top county at minor level in the last 20 years and you’re saying to them, ‘Look, this is our tradition, we go to Croke Park and we perform, this is our environment’.
"So eventually they’ll buy into that. With the result in Pairc Ui Chaoimh and the result the last day, training Sunday evening, there’s a huge change in them already.
"Confidence-wise, energy-wise and the whole lot. You can see that there’s another level in them again for the final."
Valuable lessons were learned by Lynskey and his management team following last year's comprehensive semi-final loss against Tipperary.
"Because they’ve done it and they realise Under-21 is the next level and senior is the next level after that," Lynskey replies when asked whether it can be tough to manage following All Ireland minor success.
"They’ve done it. It was a lesson for us really, we were a new management team.
"It was a setback, we learned an awful lot from it. I’m very clear in my philosophy as a coach, it’s the pursuit of excellence and love of the game. So we understood fully setbacks are part of the process as a manager and as a coach.
"I dwelt on it and reflected on it and obviously what we learned we put into fruition this year, we’re back in an All-Ireland final."