Diarmaid Byrnes: ‘There is a crazy competitiveness’:
By Cian O’Connell
In sport the ability to deal with setbacks and subsequently demonstrating resilience under pressure matters deeply.
At various stages during a silverware laden spell, Limerick hurlers have been forced to overcome the fact that key players haven’t been available. In recent years Cian Lynch, Seán Finn, and Declan Hannon have missed critical matches due to injury.
Diarmaid Byrnes, the proud Patrickswell clubman, acknowledges the importance of adapting to circumstances. “I was asked a question there earlier about preparation, how do we build on our experience from the last couple of years?,” Byrne responds.
“Will we do anything different this year? I suppose those injuries are a perfect example of the unpredictability of the year, of a season. Would we have loved to have Seán Finn for all of last year? Absolutely. Declan? Absolutely.
“Regards injuries, somebody might pick up a small niggle or a serious niggle. This year will be no different, I guarantee we will face some adversity. Hopefully we don’t, touch wood, Please God.
“It would be great. That is something I’d say across everything, I’d love to see, regardless of who we are playing or what circumstances. You’d hate to see somebody injured, who would add to the championship, regardless of what county they are from.”
Ultimately, clearing the hurdles put in front of you is what players want to do. “Those challenges are just part and parcel of being an inter-county player, regardless of what code you’re playing, male or female,” he adds.
“I don’t think there is anyone who has a perfect season, without picking up a hamstring strain, a dirty old belt on the finger, or something like that. How we have adapted over the last number of years, it shows strength in our panel.
“The younger lads and their contribution, how they’ve added is the only way to put it – massively. The strength in our panel, the belief, and the trust is how we have got through it.”
Since 2018 it has been a sustained spell of Limerick brilliance. Consistent and classy Limerick have won five All-Ireland titles.
What are some of the reasons a team maintains high standards? “For me personally, it is just enjoyment,” Byrnes replies.
“I know a lot of lads might be satisfied with winning whatever, but I don’t think it is within this group. There is a crazy competitiveness.
“I know dealing with Hego (Gearóid Hegarty) or Peter Casey, if we are heading away somewhere or in a hotel for pre-game, if you find a table tennis table, something like that or if we were in a school, which was common during Covid, when you’d go to schools instead of hotels, we’d go into the hall to play basketball or something.
“The boys would be killing one another before the match – mad stuff altogether, but very enjoyable.
“That competitiveness has grown in us over the last number of years. As athletes we are in the game, there is no other way to describe it, other than top officials describing us as GAA players, but we are athletes.
“That competitiveness grows in athletes, it is just a natural thing, to want more, to be better every day. It is competitiveness and just enjoying it. You have to enjoy the moments, and I think we are.”