Limerick star Diarmaid Byrnes is determined to leave his mark in the history books as his club Patrickswell prepare to face Ballygunner in the Munster semi-final on Sunday.
Ciaran Carey’s side haven’t been in action since narrowly overcoming rivals Na Piarsaigh in the county final at the beginning of October, a win that placed them at the top of Limerick’s roll of honour.
While Patrickswell dethroned the reigning champions with a five-point victory, it was far from a polished performance as the side hit 16 wides and failed to score for the majority of the second half.
Speaking at the launch of the Aer Lingus Super 11s Jersey, Byrnes admitted that the side could afford to joke about the below-par performance during their celebrations but knows that they cannot afford to go missing if they are to make the provincial club final.
“Yeah, it’s grand enough now, we can have a laugh about it. We laughed about it a few days after the county final when we were celebrating but it was fairly shocking stuff now to be honest”, admitted Byrnes.
“But we were creating the chances, we were doing everything right, we were getting into the scoring zones, the areas we’d be most comfortable and we just weren’t executing them. They were just going marginally wide but when you’re in the stand it looks terrible because all you see is the umpires waving it wide.
“There was about 15 minutes that passed there where they were ticking on scores and they got it back to a draw. We finally got one and just broke the momentum. We kicked on from there. To be fair, the experience is there now because I remember in 2015 when we did play Na Piarsaigh, we were in a similar position. We were up by six points and we just couldn’t break the momentum and they went on and actually won by five.
In the couple of years that have passed, we’ve built that experience and lads that have been there before in 2015 knew just to keep a level head and keep doing what we’re doing and plug away – and we did. We didn’t panic, there were no balls lobbed into the full-forward line hoping to get a lucky score. We kept doing our process and just kept plugging away, got our scores and thankfully we got the end result.”
The side’s captain and Hurler of the Year 2018 Cian Lynch was key to October’s victory, scoring two late points while dragging the team across the line.
At just 23 years of age, Lynch is considered one of the most skilful hurlers in the country at the moment but Byrnes maintains that his leadership has been just as important to the team.
“He has been super this year. I’ve seen him put on some great shows in the green jersey and the blue and yellow jersey for Patrickswell, I’ve played alongside him since I was U10, U12 the whole way up along. We’d just stand back and watch his flicks or whatever he’s doing, it’s brilliant.
“I’d say in an overall performance it was probably his best 60 minutes of hurling in no matter what jersey he’s playing, the last day in the Gaelic Grounds in the county final. The role kind of suits him, as captain. He’s been brilliant for us to be honest.
“Even speaking in the huddle and stuff like that, he knows what will hit the nail on the head. If someone’s not carrying their weight he knows how to deal with it, he wouldn’t be one for effing and blinding and getting you going, but he knows how to get the boat rolling.”
The last time Patrickswell ventured into the Munster club championship was in 2016 and that year Gary Kirby’s side were knocked out of the competition in the penultimate round following an agonising one-point loss to Glen Rovers.
Patrickswell face another major challenge this weekend in the shape of the reigning Munster champions but with the hurt of 2016 still fresh in his mind, Byrnes is determined to maintain the culture of winning that the club have developed.
“When you walk into the club house, to the left, there’s now 20 pictures of club champions on the wall. We’ve four Munster clubs, there’s two occasions there where they got to the All-Ireland club [final]. There is a history there.
“For myself, involved in an inter-county team, and the club lads that are there, we all want to make our own bit of history, in our own jersey, with our own team. What’s done in the past is done.
“I’ve two county titles now and I want to add to that, same as the players beside me. You just want to leave your own mark on it. The pictures on the wall are from the past. Of the 20, I’m only involved in two, the other 18 are in the past, they are history. You want to be filling more gaps on that wall now. Make a piece of history and leave your mark on the club.”
Throw-in on Sunday in Walsh Park is 1.30pm.
Wexford’s Lee Chin, Limerick’s Diarmaid Byrnes, Kilkenny’s Paul Murphy and Tipperary’s Barry Heffernan were at Aer Lingus Hangar 6 at Dublin Airport this morning where Aer Lingus, in partnership with the GAA & GPA, unveiled a one-of-a-kind customised playing kit for the New York Hurling Classic which takes place at Citi Field in New York on November 16th.
Aer Lingus will once again be the Official Airline of the event and will be responsible for flying the four teams to New York. Aer Lingus is Ireland’s only 4-Star airline and has been involved in the Hurling Classic on three previous occasions where it has been played at Fenway Park in 2015, 2017 & 2018.