Lynch: Limerick stars need space to develop
Limerick's burgeoning hurling stars should be given space to develop without the burden of expectation upon them, Na Piarsaigh's Ronan Lynch has stated.
Limerick have won two of the last three All-Ireland U-21 titles and with Gavin O'Mahony and James Ryan the latest to depart, leadership responsibility is now being transferred down to that younger generation.
But the 20-year-old UL student, part of the 2015 and 2017 U-21 wins, hopes history doesn't repeat itself in the county.
"We won three successive U-21 championships and, barring the 2007 All-Ireland final appearance, not much came of that at all," he said.
"I know we won Munster in 2013 but an All-Ireland is always your key goal, particularly in Limerick.
"At 20, so much goes on in your life around that period of time. It is very difficult to keep young players at their peak. You come out of your Leaving Cert, you could be a superstar at minor level and the next thing you have four or five bad games and people are saying, 'This fella was supposed to be a superstar, what's wrong with him? He's not good at this'.
"Then suddenly a fella who is used to getting pats on the back the whole time is getting a bit of criticism. It's very, very difficult to deal with that pressure and spotlight.
"If you're TJ Reid or Richie Hogan, two of the top players in the country who have won numerous All-Irelands, if you get a little bit of criticism or if your form is off, you've a fountain of experience to deal with that sort of pressure.
"But when you're only 19, 20 and have won a couple of U-21 All-Irelands maybe, and then people are putting expectations on you, people have to be given the space to breathe as well.
"I was looking at an interview the other day where Roy Keane was talking about Ronaldo when he first came on the scene.
"They knew he was a special talent that was going to go places but they were very conscious to give him the space to develop as a player. I think that's very important in Limerick, definitely. There are so many good young players that just give them the space to breathe and develop."
Sequence Lynch and Na Piarsaigh have never lost a Munster club championship match since making the breakthrough in 2011, a sequence that has stretched 10 games to incorporate their 2011, 2013 and 2015 successes on top of this current run.
He feels the fear of losing prevalent in Limerick is replaced by a drive to compete with the best in Munster that suits them.
"It's only when you are actually in the thick of it and playing these games that you realise how impressive a record that actually is," said Lynch who hit 15 points in their Munster club semi-final win over Blackrock.