Rising star Lyng 'dying for chance to impress'
Given the talent available, nailing down a place with the Kilkenny is always a daunting proposition. Just ask TJ Reid and Richie Hogan, who were forced to persevere and dig deep before producing spectacular consistency in recent years.
Reid and Hogan have helped the Cats retain remarkable standards after substantial retirements but for rising star Joe Lyng, Ger Aylward's example is a particular inspiration having watched his talent first-hand with Good Counsel, New Ross.
Aylward seized his opportunity last year on the way to a first All-Star while another school friend of Lyng (right), Walter Walsh, has been a regular in the black and amber since hitting 1-3 in his All-Ireland final replay debut in 2012.
And despite currently nursing a shoulder injury, which will see him out for six to eight weeks, The Rower Inistioge clubman has aspirations of making his own mark in 2016, four years after initially being called in by Brian Cody to make up numbers in training.
"Obviously big names who were absolutely unbelievable servants are gone but I suppose the thing keeps rolling. We're training since 2012, dying to get our chance. Ger is there, he showed that," Lyng said.
"There's so many guys there that would love a chance and once you're putting in the work, you're in with a chance. You're privileged to be in the set-up but when you're in there, you have to work. If you do put in the work and you are playing well, you will be picked on the day.
"I think most guys realise that JJ and Henry and whoever retired left an example to us and we're trying to keep that going. It's extremely competitive but if it was easy, it wouldn't be as rewarding as it is."
The 24-year-old credits his rise through the ranks to his hurling tutelage in Good Counsel but the game has always been ingrained in his psyche. "Good Counsel is where it really took off for me," he said. "I worked hard to get on the colleges teams and then was selected for a minor panel.
"But hurling was always something you just did without thinking about it. It's DNA and it's great to be involved, look up to those great players and then to get a chance to play with them is just an amazing honour."
Hailing from the home of Cats legend Eddie Keher, Lyng takes great pride in his GAA background and despite the usual competition for places, the promising defender hopes to join clubmate Kieran Joyce in the Kilkenny starting line-up.
"We're up against some great players but it's a challenge. Personally I love that challenge," Lyng said. "And hopefully I'll get my chance at some stage. Who knows? Time will tell."
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