Pain of defeat helped by return to club action says Lynch
By Michael Devlin
Cian Lynch pulling on the Patrickswell jersey for club championship duty at the weekend was as much about absolving himself of Limerick’s recent All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kilkenny as anything else.
The side, managed by Ciaran Carey, kept up their 100 per cent record in this year’s Limerick championship by dismissing of South Liberties by 14 points, 3-17 to 0-12, at Childers Road on Saturday evening.
It was Lynch’s first game since the dramatic loss to the Cats two weekends ago that saw Limerick relinquish their ownership of the Liam MacCarthy Cup, and so crossing the white line in blue and gold of ‘Well was a catharsis of sorts, a chance to purge the pain of defeat and get back to hurling.
“I suppose the week after the loss was hard to take,” says Lynch. “That time in your life, especially after last year, the massive euphoria and the massive highs straight down to the lowest low. I suppose getting back to your club and getting back to the swing of things again is kind of the best thing for us to do. It gets you back into a routine and positive thinking again.
“It’s huge. You’re usually back out with the Limerick team training, so there’s that massive void. But to get back with the club, it’s where you’ll start your hurling, it’s where you’ll finish. These lads, you’ve went to primary school together, so they understand what you’re going through.
“It’s great to get back and I suppose with Patrickswell there’s three of us, myself, Aaron [Gillane] and Diarmuid [Byrnes], so we all went through the same craic. Your confidence will be shattered and your sense of belief gone after a loss like that, but we have to dig deep and try to get back.”
And while Lynch’s focus is firmly on the Limerick Championship over the next month, with Patrickswell expected to be amongst the front-runners alongside Na Piarsigh and Kilmallock, the 2018 Hurler of The Year reflected on that narrow county defeat to Kilkenny.
“No player that wants to be knocked out in an All-Ireland semi-final. When you are playing at the highest level your aim is to get to Croke Park on All-Ireland final day. But that’s the way it goes, and all credit to Kilkenny for doing what they did.
“Kilkenny came out in the first ten minutes, their intensity and work rate was unreal. They took their chances and took a big lead, we had a lot of wides that we wouldn’t normally put wide. That’s sport, and it goes back to a little bit of luck, any other day they could have went over.
“You can’t delve into it too much either and start diagnosing it either. We kind of took it as it was, we know ourselves we didn’t reach our full potential that day. Kilkenny and Brian Cody had their homework done, they performed and they won, and they are in an All-Ireland final.”
The following day, Tipperary produced a stunning comeback against Wexford to book their place in Sunday’s final. Lynch was still reeling from defeat the night before and found it hard to watch the action, but he did tune in for the thrilling finale.
“I watched small bits of it, but I was actually so sick and low over the whole thing that I actually had zero interest. I did watch the last few minutes, it was fair exciting. No matter how disappointed you were, you’d still be wound up watching it. It is hard to watch games when you’re out of the championship, but I suppose that game had some intensity to it too.”
“Tipp showed great character, and I suppose Wexford were unfortunate not to get over the line too, but Tipperary just kept plugging away and it was the sign of a great, great team. The likes of Séamus Callanan, Pádraic Maher, Ronan Maher, they are lads who were standing up and want to drive forward.”
Was he watching Tipperary and Wexford then and wondering how Limerick could have sized up to either of them in an imaginary final, had things gone their way against Kilkenny? Such an exercise is pointless says Lynch, not worth the torment.
“There’s always questions like, ‘Could we do this, or would we do that?’. They are questions that eat players up and would break you down. For us we have to knuckle down and realise that we are back with our clubs. That phase of losing to Kilkenny, or whatever is going on outside, we just have to bounce back to our clubs.”
“As players yourself, you have expectations to get to an All-Ireland final and get back to where you want to be. Like I say, on any given day anything’s possible, there was only a puck of a ball between it. It’ll probably be regrettable to live with for a long time, but there’s no point settling for that and sitting back and leaving it be. We’ll have to get back on the horse.
“We had a great league campaign and great Munster championship, unfortunately the semi-final didn’t go our way, but you take massive learnings. You learn more from defeats than you do from wins. You see the likes of Kilkenny and Tipp, they come back better and stronger after such loss.
“We had so much expectation within ourselves in what we wanted to achieve, it’s hard to be satisfied with what we did, and you want to achieve more.”
Even though armed with intimate knowledge of both Tipperary and Kilkenny from their encounters with Limerick in the past few seasons, Lynch still can’t call this Sunday’s game between two of the traditional heavyweights of hurling.
“If I was to be diplomatic I’d say it was a draw,” he says. “It’s very hard to know, Kilkenny and Tipperary have some tradition of paying each other. Sunday is going to take a whole life of its own, I don’t think there’s any way of calling it now. On any given day, anything can happen within the white lines.
“Sunday is going to be very interesting. You have two teams there with unbelievable hurling skills and intensity, even their whole ethos of hurling is unbelievable. So it’s going to be very interesting.”