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Lure of Treaty United was too much to turn down


Treaty United’s Jack Lynch is following in the footsteps of his father and former Limerick manager, Tommy. Photo: Don Moloney

Treaty United’s Jack Lynch is following in the footsteps of his father and former Limerick manager, Tommy. Photo: Don Moloney

Treaty United’s Jack Lynch is following in the footsteps of his father and former Limerick manager, Tommy. Photo: Don Moloney

Last year’s League of Ireland can be remembered for plenty of reasons – Shamrock Rovers’ unbeaten season, the climax to the First Division and subsequent ‘trophy-watch’, and an equally exciting FAI Cup final.

For football fans in Limerick and the mid-west, none of those will top the list of talking points from the 2020 campaign. Instead, it was the absence of a local presence in the league for the first time since the 1937-38 season .

Two years ago, Limerick FC folded following a last-place finish in the First Division, after a 26-point deduction for entering into examinership.

In the interim, the newly-formed Treaty United have taken their place and acquired the precious 10th spot in this season’s second tier ahead of both Shamrock Rovers II and Dublin County.

After a short notice period of acceptance, manager Tommy Barrett hastily assembled a 26-man squad for the new club’s maiden outing.

Among the new signings was defender Jack Lynch, one of the key men in Galway United’s surge to the First Division play-off final in November.

Despite that run, which he admits was the most enjoyable time he has had as a footballer, the lure of Treaty United was too much to turn down for a variety of reasons.

“It definitely wasn’t an easy call. It wasn’t like a five-minute thing. I went up and spoke to John Caulfield in person and we had a couple of chats on the phone,” 23-year-old Lynch explains.

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“I was talking to Tommy at the same time and the rumblings were that Treaty United were pretty much odds-on to get a licence. That played into it as well.”

Working with Barrett in Limerick’s underage structure was one reason why the pull was strong, his role as a manufacturing engineer in Castletroy-based Edwards Life Sciences was another. Most important of all, was the family ties to the previous guises of Limerick football.

A son of former Limerick player and manager Tommy, who also had spells with Sunderland and Shrewsbury Town, and cousin of Lee J, the latest Lynch addition grew up surrounded by the game.

“It’s a serious honour to be involved in the first of anything. To be involved in the first squad that Treaty will put out in the League of Ireland is a big thing. I have my own connections to it, my dad would have started off with Limerick,” he adds.

“He’d still go there nearly every Friday they were at home. I know the likes of Duggie’s (Shane Duggan) dad was there as well. He would have played for Limerick when they were flying high.

“It means a lot to not just the people who played during the glory days but your normal fan, that would have been their Friday night, heading up to the Markets Field, to get football back in the region.”

And it’s another of the city’s footballing heroes that has led to Lynch wearing No 44 this season for the new club, his initial choice of four is retired in honour of Limerick’s late 1979-80 league-winning captain Joe O’Mahony, a gesture Treaty were keen to maintain.

However, he admits that he naively chose the number without realising it had been stood down, leading to an interesting conversation at home.

“We were asked what numbers we wanted and I replied with four. Others picked throughout the day and my second choice, 16, was gone, too. Later that night, the gaffer texted me and said, ‘look, they want to keep four retired’. I didn’t know it had been retired.

“As soon as Tommy said Joe O’Mahony, I remembered the name alright. He was a huge figure in Limerick soccer.

“So, I said to my parents, ‘I’ve asked for four but it’s been retired for Joe O’Mahony’. And my dad says, ‘he was the best man at my wedding’. So, straight away, I’m thinking, ‘well, I definitely can’t take number four now anyway’.

“Eventually, my mother just said to go with 44, the only thing better than one four is two fours – so that’s what we stuck with. I wish there was a better reason,” he laughs.

While that tradition remains, there are plenty of aspects of the former club that Treaty United are keen not to replicate, and Lynch believes that the board and playing squad assembled are the right mould to fill the void.

“The key word is going to be sustainability. Conn Murray is the chairman, a shrewd businessman. We have people on the board who are not only doing it for the good of the region soccer-wise, but who actually know how to run a business because that’s what it’s going to turn into,” Lynch reveals.

“The other side then is the lads who are playing. Some League of Ireland clubs over the years, lads use them as a wage. I don’t think you can say that about the 26 lads we have coming in.

“We have Dave Mahedy from UL Sport on the board, the facilities that are on our doorstep now, that we have access to, are huge, and that’s a big help.

“We won’t be left wanting for anything and the last thing that we want is another episode of what went on in 2019. I think the biggest emphasis is making sure that doesn’t happen ever again.”

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