TEN YEARS AFTER breaking onto the inter-county scene and capping a glittering debut season with an All-Star, Cáit Lynch is back leading the Kerry charge.
The experienced Castleisland Desmonds defender first joined the senior set-up in 2012, and within a few months, was named among the best 15 players in the country.
“It’s all gone downhill since,” Lynch laughs. “It was a great first year, we got to the All-Ireland final. We were still probably pretty green, played Cork and lost, but an amazing, amazing experience.
“It’s mad – now I know I took a few years off as well, but last year was our first year back in Croke Park again, which is incredible to think that it’s taken that much time for us to get back there. It’s been a nice journey as well to be on.”
The return to HQ the 29-year-old refers to was the 2021 Division 2 league final, in which Meath toppled the Kingdom. And we’re all well aware of how the rest of the year went for the history-making Royals.
From All-Stars and All-Ireland finals, Munster, Division 2 and O’Connor Cup glory, to the Kerry captaincy and All-Ireland intermediate club honours, Lynch enjoyed a fruitful few years up until 2016.
But then she left her Gaelic games roots behind her, heading to Amsterdam to work with Bord Bia.
“I spent a year-and-a-half over there and then just decided to travel for six months or something like that,” she explains. “But that ended up being about a year-and-a-half. I couldn’t stop, I loved it so much.
“I based myself in Honduras for the bones of a year, just scuba diving and got a job there. A friend of mine opened up a brewery and he asked me to manage it. Opened it up, started brewing the first IPA beer [in Honduras].
Facing Orla Finn in 2014.
Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO
“I was living the life really. Honduras is so stunning, the people are fabulous. Everywhere in Central America, it’s beautiful and people are so nice. It’s just a really nice part of the world to travel.”
No matter how far away she was, she always kept an eye on matters back home, simply wanting the best for her team-mates.
But she’s firmly back alongside them now, and committed to the Kerry cause once again.
Lynch is living in Dublin, and working in Lidl’s Head Office on the CSR purchasing team. A successful club run to familiar territory in the All-Ireland intermediate semi-final means she’s adjusted to the commute, and she’s hoping to sort a car pool as things ramp up.
She and fellow All-Star winning clubmate Lorraine Scanlon missed last weekend’s Division 2 league opening win over Tipperary, which inflicted further pain on the Premier after consigning them to the senior championship relegation final last year, though the duo should be back in situ in the coming weeks and months.
Below, Lynch takes a closer look at the Kerry set-up, and some of the big ins and outs.
Cáit Lynch on…
The management continuity of Declan Quill and Darragh Long, and how important that is after a turbulent time off the pitch a few years back…
I think this is their third year now. I came in at the end of 2020, so I think that would have been their first year. It’s all the same background team as well. It was great to go in, you know the the lads and the lads know you as well. There’s a good relationship that has been built between the players and the management, and everyone gets on really well. It’s a really happy camp, that’s just so important. It’s great to have them back again, and to have that consistency in management as well, it’s so important for any team. You’re not worrying about management, or who’s gonna train us or any of that. You can focus on the important stuff.
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Squad changes and recent retirements…
The core of the group is still there. Except Ash Desmond is a humongous loss. She was a stalwart there in Kerry for so many years, and she’s put in huge shifts for the county. She’s really did the county service. Brilliant footballer, and she’s a pure leader. She’s such a leader from the backs and she did what she asked all of us to do, and then some as well. It was a treat having her in full-back. There’s a good few new younger players coming in this year as well. They all seem to be training brilliantly, they’re all fresh, young, sprightly, life ahead of them. Mad to run and full of beans. It’s good to inject new pace to it as well.
Aislinn Desmond in action for Kerry.
Source: Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO
Anna Galvin as captain…
Yeah, it’s brilliant. I’m delighted to see Anna is our captain this year. She was a brilliant captain in a difficult year, back in 2020. And she’s a brilliant person on and off the field. Everyone gets on really well with her. When she plays, she’s inspirational. She is a pure leader. She gets everyone going, and just really helps glue the team together. It’s exciting to have her as the captain now this year.
Taking inspiration and motivation from what Meath did in 2021, especially given the fact Kerry beat them in the round-robin stages of Division 2 league…
It really is an any given day kind of a story that just gives hope to all of the other counties out there. I suppose for a while it was getting [to be] kind of a one-horse race so it’s great. I think it will build the excitement for the championship again this year and everyone is going to use Meath as an example of, ‘This is what we can do.’
It’ll give counties more belief because I think sometimes you can be as well prepared as you want, but if you don’t fully believe that you can actually win then it’s very hard to actually get that over the line. Hopefully it’ll really just widen the championship, or kind of blow it open this year.
– Kerry face Clare in their Round Two clash in Doonbeg tomorrow [throw-in 3pm].