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Fergal Lynch of Clare in action against Daniel Kearney of Cork during their Munster senior championship semi-final in The Gaelic Grounds. Photograph by John Kelly.
Fergal Lynch. Photograph by John Kelly.

Single-minded Lynch predicts marriage deluge

As the build-up to the All-Ireland final continues, Peter O’Connell spoke to Fergal Lynch on more than just hurling matters.
FERGAL Lynch predicts that 2013 will be a seismic year for two of his county hurling colleagues. The Quin National School principal is the only married man on the county panel but is confident that his isolation is approaching end game.
“Brendan Buglar and Paddy Donnellan won’t be too far behind me, I’d say. I’m going to give them up to Christmas. Although they’ll hardly last that long,” Lynch laughs.
Clare’s starting 1995 All-Ireland winning team featured 15 bachelors and just one married playing substitute.
“Someone said to me the other day that none of them were married bar Cyril Lyons, who came on as a sub. I don’t know if I’m playing the Lyons role. He was probably a better hurler than I am but it’s a good omen,” the Clooney-Quin man feels.
Although more than a decade older than most of the younger Clare panellists, Lynch doesn’t think he is completely out of touch with teammates, some of whose birth certificates contain references to 1993 and 1994.
“I think sometimes they reckon I’m as big a messer as they are themselves. I get on very well with the younger fellas. I look up to them as much as they look up to me. There’s a great sense of respect among players and management. Even though there’s an age difference between us, we all have great respect for each other. There’s such a mixture of characters but that’s what brings such a good tempo and environment to our sessions and our group,” the panel veteran suggests.
He is the only current squad member who has experience of an All-Ireland senior final build-up.
“I was there in 2002, when we last got to the All-Ireland final. I was only on the training panel at the time but I still got a sense of it and got a feel of how things were. I thought it was going to come for years after but it never did. It’s after taking us 11 years to get there again.”
While preparing primarily as a player, who hopes to be thrown into the fray from the bench, Lynch’s equally important role involves throwing an occasional arm around a younger teammate.
“There’s such an age difference between the likes of Tony Kelly and Peter Duggan to myself. You’re trying to keep lads’ feet on the ground, as well as keeping my own on the ground because it is an exciting time. Ever since you were 12 years of age, you wanted to get there. Now it has come around, so it’s about keeping a steady head,” he said.
Barring unforeseen injuries, Lynch knows he will start on the bench on Sunday week. He is now accustomed to mentally preparing to empty himself if he gets the call.
“You’re trying not to watch it as a supporter when you’re in the dugout. You’re trying not to get too emotionally attached. You really have to follow the whole game as if you’re in it yourself. It can be difficult to get in there and be at the pace of it after two minutes. You’re in there to make an impact and while I’m not a prolific scorer, I’m there to win possession and bring other lads into the game and make sure the puck-outs are being won or broken. It’s something that you have to focus on and work on mentally.
“You see Limerick winning the Munster championship when their subs came in to win it and it’s the same with Cork the next day. We have such great subs, like Cathal McInerney, Aaron Cunningham, Shane O’Donnell and Peter Duggan. It’s vitally important that they’re as focused as the first 15 are,” he counselled. He has made 22 championship appearances since making his inter-county debut in 2005 including five, from the bench, this year.
Quin National School re-opened for the new academic year this week. The school principal has noticed the children are getting rather excited about September 8. While trying to separate himself from the hype, Lynch acknowledges that reaching an All-Ireland final is an invaluable marketing opportunity for Clare GAA.
“I was involved a couple of years ago at the time we started the development squads. I trained the county U-14s and U-16s. I was over the current minor team when they were U-14. To see players like Bobby Duggan and Stephen Ward coming through is great. There’s such an interest even among the kids in my own school.
“Hurling is becoming the predominant sport in Clare. The most popular sport was rugby for a good while. It’s very important that we can capitalise on that now. We’ve such great grounds built out on the Tulla Road. Maybe we can bear the fruits of the work being done by Seán Chaplin and Peter Casey in the years to come and not just be totally dependant on this group of players. What happened in ’95 and ’97 was exceptional but we needed to build on that and we never did. Hopefully, we’ve learnt our lessons. We’ve such a strong county board there at the moment. They want to capitalise on this and put resources into it as well,” he maintains.
Now that Clare are there, they are clear-eyed in their ambition to win a third All-Ireland title since 1995.
“There’s no point in talking about being there. It’s about seizing the moment and grasping it with both hands. The last few weeks we’ve trained so intensely, we know we are going  be able to go for that bit longer. Everything [in training] is game specific. Davy has really worked hard at keeping us in our own little bubble to keep us away from the hype and the talk,” Lynch revealed.
While he is certain he won’t be the only married man on the panel this time next year, Lynch is grateful for the input of his wife, Angela O’Gorman.
“Angela has been a great support to me as have her parents, who were hugely involved in GAA and my own parents. I’m so lucky to have such great people around me,” the panel elder acknowledged, hoping he will have a Celtic Cross to show his family come September 9.

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