Cian Lynch using 2019 pain to fuel fire for 2020
By John Harrington
Cian Lynch still hasn’t been able to bring himself to watch footage of Limerick’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kilkenny this year.
The pain of the experience is still etched on his face when you ask him to recall it, and you get the feeling the regrets won’t dissipate for some time yet.
He hopes though to use those emotions to fuel his fire for Limerick’s championship campaign in 2020.
“Ah, sure, you're gutted,” said Lynch. “The whole scenario in terms of what happened, now it's irrelevant but at the time you're questioning everything, you're questioning yourself, it's just very hard to take.
“A loss like that is one of the toughest experiences I've ever had in sport, especially when we came so close.
“Losing a semi-final is always hard to take, and, for ourselves, we were just very disappointed on a whole team level because we didn't get our flow. You could say we weren't let get our flow, but, for ourselves, we felt like we never found our flow.
“It's disappointing, but the regret that we have we can either use to fuel us going forward in a positive way or let it bring us down. Hopefully we can drive on and bounce back.”
Limerick underperformed as a team in the All-Ireland semi-final, but within the whole each individual will have his own private regrets about aspects of his performance and Lynch is no different.
“I would, yeah,” he said. “You'd know yourself when you didn't do well or you couldn't get the ball or couldn't get your flow.
“I suppose for us as a team we always analyse ourselves as a team because it's irrelevant if a guy plays well and the team loses. It's about the team and if you get the win and lads played bad, then you just pull together and drive on again.
“All of us are looking back and there are regrets. There is great credit due to Kilkenny as well, obviously. They were unlucky in the Final, Tipp just brought everything.
“For us, we just wanted to be able to rectify things. It's great to be able to look forward to next year and get back on the horse.”
On the 15 occasions since 2002 when Munster Champions have advanced directly to the All-Ireland semi-finals, they’ve won just four times.
There’s clearly a trend of Munster championship winning teams struggling to cope with the break between winning the provincial series and playing in the All-Ireland semi-final, but Lynch doesn’t think it’s a valid excuse as far as Limerick were concerned this year.
“Personally, I think that's irrelevant, the break you get after winning a Munster Final. Especially for us.
“You know, every player wants to go out and win a Munster Championship. For me, it's as important as getting to an All-Ireland Final because very few people have them.
“We train as hard as any team and did all we could have done in those two to three weeks leading to the semi-final. Hurling is very funny, if you don't start well and if a bit of luck goes against you, then things can go wrong.
“I haven't actually watched the game back yet, I'd get sick watching it. It's hard to pinpoint where things wrong, but personally I think the break between the Munster Final and All-Ireland semi-final has no effect.
“You have to remain humble. Perspective is a huge thing. A loss like that is a massive regret and you feel terrible after it, but there are plenty of people in life who can't get up in the morning or can't get out and attack the day the way we're able to attack the day. So that's where I look back and seek a bit of solace in the whole thing.”
The residual disappointment of how Limerick’s Championship ended would surely be washed away if Lynch could help his club Patrickswell to victory over Na Piarsaigh in Sunday’s County SHC Final.
They’ve beaten the reigning champions once already this year in the group phase, but Lynch doesn’t believe that will count for much going into Sunday’s match.
“Yeah, it's irrelevant now, it was back in April,” he said. “It's nearly like two separate seasons when you break after April.
“On any given day when you go out to play a match no-one knows what's going to happen. Different things can be thrown at you or you throw different things at an opposition. Anything can happen. Hopefully we can just stick together.
“We know Na Piarsaigh well and what they have and what they have been doing for the last few years. They have set the bar in Limerick and in the country in club hurling. We know the standard of player they have and we'll just have to look after ourselves and keep the head down.”
Patrickswell are still the most successful club in Limerick hurling along with Ahane with a total of 19 county senior titles.
They’ve won just one in the last 15 years though, back in 2016, when Lynch played a key role in their victory over Ballybrown.
“It was unreal,” said Lynch. “It's so different to winning with your county. With your club it's just so local. It's all the people you meet in the local shop or just when you're going up to the hurling field.
“They're the lads you've gone to school with and known all your life. It's special. A completely different buzz. It's something you just can't buy or even explain.
“Every village or parish has a GAA team and knows that feeling if they've ever won anything. It's great, but
there's no point getting too excited either looking ahead to the Final.”