“It was the first time in my life I realised that God, I need to find something else to fill this void a bit.”
Before nicking his hamstring against Waterford in 2022, Cian Lynch had experienced a very good run of it when it came to injuries. A few niggles here and there, nothing serious enough to keep him out of big games for club or county.
But his luck changed that day in Limerick and it kickstarted a tale of woe that stretched right up to the closing stages of this year’s championship. Those hamstring issues were only just about coming right when, in the lead-up to the 2022 final vs Kilkenny, Lynch twisted his ankle so bad in training that he would require surgery.
The surgery subsequently kept him out of the club campaign that followed with Patrickswell.
Then, just when he thought it was all behind him, the same hamstring twinged again in this year’s Munster round-robin, this time against Clare. Through strength work in the gym, as well as gradually building confidence again in his leg, Lynch eventually made it back this year.
And he made it back to full form with a barnstorming All-Ireland final performance vs Kilkenny. Speaking as the PwC Player of the month for July, Lynch took us through his injury struggles.
“I’d been lucky, I’d never really had many injuries.
“The hamstring was 12 weeks last year and the ankle then and to get the operation, you can’t prepare yourself for that.
“You’re so used to getting up on a Tuesday and going to work and going training that evening and being able to tog out and have the craic on the pitch.
“When you’re injured, you miss that and you’re wondering what do I do now?
“It was the first time in my life I realised that God, I need to find something else to fill this void a bit. It’s hard, even for the boys that got injured this year, Dec, Richie, Mark Quinlan, Jimmy Quilty, Seán Finn, they missed out on the All-Ireland as well.
Lynch says that such an extended period on the line was a traumatic experience, as many sports-people will attest to.
“There is a bit of a trauma with an injury. You miss out on something that’s so big in your life or you’re not able to go out and do what you’ve been doing all your life.
“Trying to get that out of your head and get that confidence back that the body feels great and just enjoy feeling good and enjoy being able to go out with the lads and enjoy being able to have a bit of craic on the pitch.
“It’s just something that from the outside looking in people don’t see what someone goes through when you’re injured. You’re there on matchday but it’s midweek when everyone is out training you’re standing there watching and itching just saying to yourself Jeez, I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Lynch says that, in terms of curing his hamstring, the Limerick S and C team played a huge role as he strengthened it up in the gym before pushing it out on the training field.
“Strengthening it up in the gym and pushing the boundaries in training, pushing it to an extent where you get that confidence in your head that yeah, it feels good.
“Because when I tore it originally, it was a stopping movement. It was like pulling up the handbrake and it went. So just to make sure when I’m in that position again that I can feel that it’s fine.
“It came at me against Clare, in the same hamstring, I got a dart in it. When I felt it, you’re paranoid straight away that it’s the same thing. In my head, I was thinking, God, could this be another 12 weeks? You don’t want that. No one wants to be injured.
“Trying to get your body following the two injuries last year and coming back with a little niggle and it just niggling on, mentally you’re trying to get your head right, that you need to cut loose and get these injuries out of your head and drive on.
“I was just grateful to have the medical team we have in Limerick, the physios and doctor and worked closely with them and the strength and conditioning to get the body right and get in the right shape and the right frame of mind.
“Confidence is everything. I know we are creatures of habit and our bodies are so well tuned into going out training, no matter what sport it is or whatever it may be, but once you feel something isn’t right, it can seep into the head.”
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