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Set-Lyng into new job

AS it happened, Derek Lynch was actually in Limerick when Brian Cody's name and number flashed up on his phone.

"Straight away," he recalls, "I was curious to know what was going on.

"It was really simple, he just asked me would I be interested in getting involved. I didn't take too long to think about it. Great opportunity."

As management material goes, Derek Lyng had yet to really establish whether or not he had any.

The interest was there, sure. But experience or nous?

He was something of a token Kilkenny selector with the 2012 Leinster Interprovincial team managed by Joe Dooley but other than taking his club, Emeralds, Under 21 team for two seasons and a fleeting involvement with a county Under 14 development squad, that was pretty much it.


Then again, by his own admission, Brian Cody's track record as a manager with James Stephens was hardly paved with gold before embarking upon the most ludicrously triumphant stint of any inter-county manager ever.

Naturally, the questions we all wanted to know the answers to when Lyng appeared at Kilkenny's pre All-Ireland semi-final press evening had Cody in them as protagonist.

Like, does ever disagree with Cody? And if so, how best to inform?

"It would be a bit odd if we're all always agreeing, the four of us. That makes it interesting. That's why we're there. Brian is interested to hear our views on different things."

More importantly, does he want Cody's job?!

"They would be pretty big shoes to fill," Lyng laughs.

"I didn't envisage being involved at this level with Kilkenny at this stage. It's brilliant to see what's going on at the moment.

"I'm happy enough to be learning from the lads. There is huge experience there, even with James (McGarry), who has had success with Ballyhale. You could tell as a player he was going to be involved."

And the changing dynamics of his relationship with the players?

"I would be friendly with a lot of the senior players, definitely," recalls Lyng of the initial adjustment both he and McGarry were forced to make upon accepted Cody's invitation to come on board after Martin Fogarty stepped down following eight years as a selector at the end of last season.

"This year, it's a little bit different in that there is a line there. It's not a case of ringing them up and seeing how they are doing.

"I think they are happy with that as well, it would be awkward otherwise," Lynch acknowledges.

"You can't ring up a guy after training and see how he's doing - that would be unrealistic anyway. Something I might say mightn't be true for the following week.

"But I don't think it affects the relationship," he adds. "Those guys who have been involved for a long time know what it takes."

Lyng only finished up playing for Emerald's at the end of last year and the 2010 All-Ireland final defeat to Tipperary was his last involvement with the Kilkenny team.

Which means his new position puts him in something of an authority role over those with whom he once soldiered, a couple of whom are currently parched for some decent game time too and might view him as accomplice in the theft of their starting shirts.


"You look at those players and what they've done," Lyng points out. "You've played with them. You'd be lying if you said…

"You've been in their shoes before. I would have experienced that feeling when I was playing."

"They come from a place where they know that whatever decisions are made it's for the betterment of the team at all times.

"It's harder for those who have more success but they are probably more clued in as to the reasons why.

"Even though it's hard to take at times, they know it's for the panel, for the team."

By the time his own time came, Lyng's own relationship with a starting jersey was beginning to seem distant.

'Cha' Fitzpatrick was seemingly coming to the boil as hurling's most dynamic midfielder and Michael Fennelly, developing into a devastating, attack-minded middle man.

He started the 2010 final from reserve and though he came on for 'Cha' and got a point, Kilkenny lost and it felt like the end of something for Lyng.

"As a player, sometimes it doesn't come off for you," he acknowledges. "You're taken off. Or there's a massive disappointment when you're not picked for a team.

"There was a few times in my career. You just have to pick yourself up. "I've seen bigger players than myself dropped. I've seen players who felt they were unlucky to be dropped or taken off.

"It's par for the course. You live by the sword; you die by the sword.

"I came in on the back of somebody else being dropped. You take your chance when you get in there.

"It's as simple as that. Sport, inter-county hurling, can be a ruthless game. We all accept that.

"You have to pick yourself up, go again.


"We've a panel of players who are well able to take it on the chin, show resilience."

"When you come into that dressing room, you're looking at Henry, Jackie, Taggy, how they all look after themselves, get themselves ready for training.

"They feed off that. they see the environment they are in.

"They'll learn a lot from them from the competitive games we have in training. It's not a place where they can hang around and think 'I've made it' just because they're on the panel. You have to earn it," Lyng concludes. "You have to work hard."