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Aaron Gillane hails Patrickswell clubmate Cian Lynch for showing the way

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Limerick’s Aaron Gillane in Croke Park to celebrate Littlewoods Ireland's has rebrand to Very. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Limerick’s Aaron Gillane in Croke Park to celebrate Littlewoods Ireland's has rebrand to Very. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Aaron Gillane, Cian Lynch and his nephew Ché celebrate with the Liam MacCarthy Cup after their All-Ireland success last month. Credit: Sportsfile

Aaron Gillane, Cian Lynch and his nephew Ché celebrate with the Liam MacCarthy Cup after their All-Ireland success last month. Credit: Sportsfile

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Limerick’s Aaron Gillane in Croke Park to celebrate Littlewoods Ireland's has rebrand to Very. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Aaron Gillane laughs when he says it’s not something he would tell Cian Lynch to his face.

But without him guiding the way, Limerick’s lethal inside forward doesn’t think he’d have made it as an inter-county hurler as much as he did without the influence of his Patrickswell colleague.

They’re the same age (26) and great friends but, for Gillane, he has always been a man for whom it was important to observe and follow.

“Growing up with Cian, we would have been very good friends, we’d have been in contact with each other a lot. Seeing what he was doing, the way he was going about things, to take a leaf out of his book, now I’d never tell him that! Small little things, what it took to make it. I learned a lot from Cian,” he acknowledges.

He was a slightly reluctant devotee to inter-county life himself but has taken to it so well since 2018 and had arguably his best season gone by as Limerick lifted a fourth Liam MacCarthy Cup in five years.

How did he shape to life to reap such personal reward?

“Simple enough really. Once it’s put on a plate for you, this is what you have to do, and if you want to work hard enough, go do it,” says Gillane, who hit 3-47 in the 2022 championship, 3-21 from play.

Lynch’s injury on the Sunday prior to the All-Ireland final, ruling him out for much of the rest of the season, was quite a jolt for the rest of them as Gillane acknowledges – and they felt a debt to him when they played Kilkenny seven days later.

“He’s been the best hurler in Ireland for a couple of years. Especially with Patrickswell being such a small place, we are definitely going to miss him. Hopefully he’ll be back sooner rather than later. All the supporters, the fans see what Cian brings when he’s playing.

“Nobody sees what he brings off the field. He’s just as good around the dressing room, getting the most out of people, being there for people. He’d be up at Patrickswell training before some of the people who’d be training, just chatting to the young fellas who are breaking through. He’s unreal that way.

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“Cian was the same Cian we always knew (when he sustained his ankle injury), didn’t change one bit, didn’t sulk once, just got on with it, still brought the positivity into the group, put everyone else before himself.”

Thus, for Gillane, taking the cup with Lynch and his other Patrickswell colleague Diarmaid Byrnes – a man he feels should be crowned Hurler of the Year – and raising it to the crowd in the Gaelic Grounds when they returned to Limerick on the Monday night after the final, was a season highlight.

“I just remember the three of us bringing the cup out onto the stage and the place just going mental. It’s something you’ll never, ever forget.”

That and a Munster final win over Clare in Thurles, something that, for Gillane, surpassed even the All-Ireland final they played six weeks later.

“There is something so traditional about playing a Munster final against Clare. We are right beside each other, we would all have a good shot off each other with the school and college and just to play it in Thurles. Just a pure battle, lashing rain extra-time, it was a game for the ages, one that will stand out in the memory and thank God we came out on top.”

Gillane has been lucky to avoid a couple of red cards over the last two seasons and reflected on a ‘near miss’ against Tipperary in last year’s Munster final when he lashed back at Tipperary’s Cathal Barrett just after coming on. He had a huge influence in turning that game Limerick’s way and knows, more than 12 months on, he got a break.

“It was a small bit wild,” he acknowledges. “A bit stupid. That’s not making any excuses. I lost the head there for a few minutes. I was very lucky to stay on, I was thankful for that. I just had to say, ‘cop on to yourself here’. It would be very embarrassing to be sent off. More that you let down the team, which is more important than any individual. So I had to have a little chat with myself.”

Personal improvement is something he continues to chase and always feels there is room for more.

“A big thing is, after matches, just sitting down, fair enough if you played well but there are always four or five things that you can improve on and bringing that from the Sunday to training and trying to get better bit by bit as the weeks progress. Even in training, if you see these small things that you are working on, if you see them paying off, it is going to give you satisfaction.”


Aaron Gillane was speaking as Littlewoods Ireland, one of the hurling championship’s sponsors, celebrated its rebrand to Very, very.ie


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