Cian Lynch enjoying going back to his roots
By John Harrington
Limerick hurling star, Cian Lynch, has had daily reminders recently that he suffered more than the occasional bad hair day in his youth.
A Masters in Teaching student in NUIG, he's currently on a two-week block of teaching training at his old alma mater, Ardscoil Rís, in Limerick, where some mementos of his own time in the school as a pupil are still proudly on display.
He was just 15 years of age when he won his first ever Harty Cup in 2011, and then three years later he was team captain when they won the coveted trophy again.
There’s no shortage of photos up on the wall, even if he cringes now at what he thought was cutting edge style in his school days. Whisper it, there may even have been a rat's tail look at one stage.
“I had a few bad haircuts back in the day, so it's hard to look at,” says Lynch with a laugh.
“I’m delighted to get back into the old school. We've a lot of memories inside there as students. It's nice to be inside, to give kids memories we were able to create.”
It’s easy to believe that Lynch would make a great teacher because he has a knack for connecting with younger people.
When he spoke to GAA.ie pitch-side after Limerick’s All-Ireland win over Cork, it was a measure of the man that he made a point of giving some good advice to the younger supporters in the county who surely idolise him.
“I know sport is brilliant but, outside of that too, keep pushing yourself and keep aspiring to reach those dreams,” said Lynch.
He likes to think that sport has given him some good perspective on life in general.
These are glory years for Limerick hurling, but he experienced some darker days as well that taught him some valuable lessons.
"I came into the panel in 2015 and things mightn't have gone our way in 2016 and 2017,” he says.
“So, I saw where your backs might be against the wall, and now we're after winning an All-Ireland final this year.
"It's just about appreciation and I always harp on about it. For any youngster growing up, you're going to have disappointments, you're going to have days when things aren't going your way and you mightn't be feeling the greatest or you mightn't be in the form for training or school or homework, but just keep going.
"Keep looking at those things you're grateful for and thankful for. I suppose that's my personal way of looking at life presently. Just being able to get up in the morning and get up out of bed and attack the day is an absolute gift.
"I think all of us have to be grateful for that so that's my approach."
The human element of sport means as much to Lynch as physical act of playing and the emotional satisfaction of winning.
He values the friendships he has made along the way above all else, and this year’s All-Ireland win was particularly satisfying because, unlike in 2020, he could properly share the day with his nearest and dearest.
“I suppose looking at the last 18 months where everyone has gone through lock-downs and come out of lockdowns and playing last year's club championship with no family members or supporters there and to be able to go up to Croke Park this year and have your Limerick supporters and family members there as well as the Cork players' families and Cork supporters, I think that's special.
“I always allude to perspective and look at these little things that are huge for us as players. To be able to meet your mother and father after the game or brothers and sisters because at the end of the day you wouldn't be where you are and you wouldn't have had the opportunity to be able to play if it wasn't for your family because they keep backing your love of sport. It's special alright to have been back.”