It was clear from an early age that bravery was a prime trait for Jack Lynch, and one that he has carried through his entire sporting career.
His battling qualities as a defender will come as no surprise to those who followed his father Tommy’s career in England, with his place in the annals of Shrewsbury Town history secured when he was voted on to the clubs greatest ever team in 2016.
Like his son, Tommy also made his name as a defender, and the evidence of him passing on the tricks of the trade to the next generation at an early age were uncovered in the Lynch house recently.
“My Dad was a huge influence on me. My first memories as a child always have some sort of a ball involved. I was watching back some home videos that my mother transferred on to DVD. I was only two or three years old and I was trying to slide tackle himself. That has carried over and stuck with me over the last 20 or so years. It was always a huge part of my life and I am just delighted now that it has come to a point where I am involved with a club like Treaty United so it has come full circle” Jack said.
He laughs when asked about that bravery shining through at such a young age in trying to fly those tackles in on his father, who had a no nonsense reputation in an era of some of the toughest players in the game.
“I have heard a few stories about him when he was playing, a bit of a hard nut to crack. I am with him 24/7 and he is not like that all the time, trust me. It is all a facade with him, there is no need to be scared of the big man, he puts it all on” he jokes.
As a youngster, Lynch tried his hand at most sports before taking the decision to focus on the game that would eventually see him made captain of a League of Ireland outfit. Shannon Town and Park Rangers, (now Shannon Hibs), were the first port of call, before a move to Limerick outfit Mungret set him on a path to the top level. The old Limerick FC, who his father had also represented, came calling and the path opened up from there.
Prior to that, the Edward Life Sciences engineer had represented the Clare footballers at U-16 level, but a broken ankle sustained in a Gaelic football match was a turning point for the Shannon man.
“When I got to U-16, I played with the Clare team and I remember I broke my ankle playing soccer on the GAA pitch. I took too many touches trying to dribble around people and got a broken ankle for my troubles so I decided I better knock it on the head and stick with the soccer” he laughed.
Making the move to the next level is something he feels presented a challenge but a positive mindset and strong work ethic were qualities that came into play.
“There was a real change of scenery and a change of pace about the whole thing. It was a lot more professional and it was something I had to adjust to. That was more evident when moving from the underage to the Limerick U-19’s. I was only 16 years old that time and I remember signing the contract just two days after my birthday. I played U-19s straight away and that was a bigger jump. It is just something that you get used to and I had it again going to the senior set up. You just have to adjust and it really is a case of sink or swim, and thankfully I have swam so far” he stated.
The 23-year-old’s League of Ireland journey has already seen him getting his hands on silverware, as he emulated his father’s achievement of winning the First Division title with Waterford United. Ironically, Tommy’s winners medal came in 1998, the same year that Jack was born.
A short spell with Cobh Ramblers followed before a move to Galway United in 2019 saw him play a key role in the clubs run to last season’s playoff final. That run, which came after a poor start to the season and a change of management, is a period that Lynch reflects on as being his most enjoyable to date.
“Winning the First Division with Waterford was huge for me and it is something I am very proud of but I just felt like I was more involved in Galway. It was almost like a reverse underdog scenario. At the start of the season people felt we were nearly odds on to pick up the title, and then we had a run where we had no win in ten games. They brought in John Caulfield and we went on this manic run that brought us to a playoff final where we just couldn’t get over the line. I think it was being involved and playing weekly in a side that had so many good players, and picking up serious results that made it the most enjoyable football I have played in a long time. Just from the few games I have played with Treaty United, this season might well top that hopefully” he noted.
The lure of home and a change in circumstances at Galway United were all key considerations in his decision to move back to the Midwest. Having previously worked with Treaty United manager Tommy Barrett during his Limerick FC underage days, that connection and trust was also a factor. When the time came to make the decision to stick with Galway or make the leap of faith, Lynch outlined that is was not an easy resolution to come to.
“I had a few conversations with John Caulfield and the club made the decision to go full time which didn’t really suit me as I had my own full time job so that was the first spanner in the works. In the background I was talking to Tommy and he was very much saying that while the chance was there that Treaty would get the licence, if there was anything else that came, I should take it. He did not want me getting caught out and not having a club if I hung around for Treaty and they didn’t get the go ahead so he was very good to me that way. It turned out fantastic in the end with the club getting the go ahead, we are up and running now with points on the board and hopefully it continues the same way” he said.
Life back at the Markets Field has been positive so far with four points from the opening two games, including a 1-0 win over Wexford Youths last weekend. That game saw the Clare man joined on the field by fellow Banner ballers Shane Cusack and Callum McNamara, and Lynch outlined that the experienced gained as each week goes by will help to continue the development.
“We have eleven players on the pitch every week who, for the most part, have experience at League of Ireland level and they are putting in really good performances. Shane Cusack was outstanding in goals on Friday night against Wexford and it was the same with Callum McNamara. He came on and did a really good job in steadying the ship when we had a man sent off so it is guys like that who you want to nurture and bring them through the journey of playing senior League of Ireland. If we keep plugging away with that mindset of taking it game by game, and not set ourselves any huge goals or get ahead of ourselves, who knows what will happen as the season unfolds” he stated.
His role as captain is one he cherishes, and he is hopeful that the club can continue to build on a positive start to the season.
“When I was asked to be the captain for the debut season, it was a huge thing for me. I said it to my parents and it was the same reaction. It was a huge honour and sense of pride and I just hope that I can do Tommy proud now for putting that trust in me and do the lads proud too. It is going to be a tough slog and we will have those ups and downs as the season progresses. Hopefully we will be able to work through them and come out at the end, better than when we started. I don’t think we can go into any game feeling any pressure. If we do that, then it will only lead to poor results. In this division, any team can beat another on their day, and we have seen that already. We just have to take it game by game and make sure our preparation is right during the week, so that every weekend we are in the best shape to get the result that the fans deserve at the minute” he concluded.