Patrickswell and Mary I: Aaron Gillane doesn't forget where he's come from 6 months ago

Patrickswell and Mary I: Aaron Gillane doesn't forget where he's come from

You'd wouldn't have to go too far back to find Aaron Gillane hurling junior for Patrickswell.

Six years in fact. Now not making his club's senior panel is hardly a moment of bleak realisation for a 17-year-old, but it's safe to say an underage sensation like Cian Lynch had no such stalls.

"I wasn't good enough," says Gillane deadpan.

A later developer he may have been, but by God no-one's doubting whether he's good enough now.

One of the most precocious stars of Limerick's All-Ireland and League triumphs in these last few glorious months, it's very easy forgotten that it wasn't always this way for Gillane.

Swinging his wrists at 'B' level was the height of his county underage career, he too knows what it's like to be dropped from a Limerick minor panel.

Aaron Gillane: How a junior player became a hurler of the year

It's 2013 and Aaron Gillane is struggling for confidence. He'd been on Limerick 'B' teams at unde...

This kid always had it though, it was only a matter of being in the right place at the right time - just like it is for so many youngsters around this country.

It was three years ago when that epiphany moment came and it couldn't have worked out any better. Just on the cusp of exiting the teenage years for adulthood, 2016 was the year and Patrickswell and Mary I were the locations.

The Well's senior hurlers were rising then under club legend Gary Kirby. Mary I were in business too in the Fitzgibbon Cup. Gillane was in the thick of it all and he only thrived on the pressure.

First he helped his club to their first Limerick title in 13 years and that progress alerted the likes of Jamie Wall of his presence. Patrickswell were beaten by Glen Rovers in Munster but Wall was there that day and Gillane was good.

He'd lord it for 'The I' in their next three Fitzgibbon Cup campaigns. He announced himself on a national stage somewhere in the middle and by the end of it all he'd bow out a Fitzgibbon star, a main man for Limerick and one of the country's best hurlers.

It was last night when he was awarded his final Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup rising star award - and today, he gave us a glimpse of the groundedness that has seen him rise.

"For myself personally, that rising star award was a great way to finish off hurling with Mary I. The Fitzgibbon Cup has been good to me these last few years, it's a competition that obviously, means a lot to me. I was even saying it last night, I'm finished now in Mary I and I was contemplating whether I'd go and do a Masters somewhere, like Galway or whatever, but then I just couldn't see myself playing against Mary I. I'll leave it off and do the Hibernia, no I just couldn't see myself playing against Mary I, it would be like playing against Patrickswell. It just wouldn't be worth it," he said at the John West Féile day.

He doesn't forget. And while he leaves those fond college memories behind him, he's intent on creating more with Limerick, but first of all with Patrickswell - where his younger brother Jason is now making strides.

"He started at corner-forward for the club (over the weekend against Doon.) He was happy enough now; he played well. He'll have to get a bit stronger but he's rearing to go after getting his first taste last Sunday. We'll see where the road takes him.

"That's what the club is about - playing with your best friends and family. It's a nice thing for him, but it's a big step-up. My father is a selector as well so it's a family affair.

Ciaran Carey is the club manager now, with Gary Kirby having given it his all

"Ah sure the two boys are two legends of the game so it has been a fairly smooth transition now. To be fair to Gary, he was the first fella to bring the county championship back to Patrickswell in the last 13 years, since 2003 I think. That was a big thing for us so hopefully Ciaran will try to emulate that again now this year.

"He's a very good man manager to be fair to him. He doesn't make a big huff or puff about things, he's good now to pull people to the side like. An example of that is our full forward this year Paul O'Brien has been playing, he's 24 I'd say, he's playing junior since he was 16, never thought he was good enough to play senior but Ciaran obviously saw something in the start of this year and he's been scoring at least a goal or two every match so far this year. Just bringing through players like that, you need to find one or two every year and luckily Ciaran has the skill to do that.

"I wasn't the only one (who looked up to Ciaran) I'd say he's adored all over Ireland. He was just a pure warrior and pure leader for Limerick. I don't think he ever failed to impress whenever he played a match. I can see a very similar resemblance with his nephew Cian. I'm playing with him the whole way up and I don't think he's ever played a bad game... It's probably a cliche that the bond in the club is so strong."

With men like Gillane involved, it's no wonder why.

Mayo footballer Lee Keegan joined Limerick hurler Aaron Gillane, Mayo ladies footballer Niamh Kelly and Kilkenny camogie player Anna Farrell in Croke Park to launch the 2019 John West National Féile and to announce that John West will renew its sponsorship of the National Féile for a further four years until 2022.