Thursday 18 July 2019

O'Kelly-Lynch keeps the flag flying for dual stars ahead of busy weekend

Sligo’s Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch. Photo: Sportsfile
Sligo’s Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

The inter-county dual star is becoming a rarer breed as each season passes and demands increase, but Sligo's Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch is still flying the flag for those trying to juggle both codes.

Hurling was always his first love, with his passion for the small ball fostered through his hurling club Naomh Eoin, while involvement with Sligo footballers came somewhat out of the blue.

Having represented the Sligo senior hurlers since the age of 17, in 2013, O'Kelly-Lynch's inter-county dreams were already fulfilled when a series of inspirational performances helped St Mary's to SFC success in 2015.

With that came a call from then Yeats manager Niall Carew to give the big ball a go and he couldn't resist.

The rest, as they say, is history and for the past four years, he has mixed commitments between the two with great effect.

Plying both trades is a way of life at this stage but it causes some problems for the 23-year-old, with this weekend being a perfect example as he plays two season-defining games in less than 24 hours.

First up on Saturday is the Nicky Rackard Cup final with Armagh in Croke Park but win, lose or draw, O'Kelly-Lynch will have little time to dwell on the result.

The next day he switches his attention to Sligo's All-Ireland SFC Round 2 qualifier clash in Tullamore as Paul Taylor's men look to turn around a disastrous season against Offaly.

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Golden

Along with veteran Keith Raymond, O'Kelly-Lynch has been an integral part in a golden period for hurling in Sligo, with immense contributions from play and placed balls.

Winning silverware has become a regular occurrence in the past 12 months under Daithí Hand as Lory Meagher Cup final defeats in 2015 and '16 were banished with a last-gasp victory over Lancashire at GAA HQ last June.

That was followed by promotion from Division 3B of the league before a scintillating summer campaign saw them spring from the pack and cause a series of minor surprises en route to the Rackard Cup final.

Opponents Armagh - who suffered relegation from the Christy Ring Cup and claimed Rackard honours in 2010 and '12 - will provide formidable opposition, but O'Kelly-Lynch could be the one to raid the Orchard.

A busy weekend in store for O'Kelly-Lynch but, no doubt, it will all be worth it if silverware is secured.

Irish Independent

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