TEN years since Ian Lynam vacated the Glen Rovers managerial role of the club’s senior team, he is now getting ready to return to the top job at the Blackpool club.
Born in 1970, Ian first arrived on the inter-county scene in 1987 when he linked up with the Cork minor team before progressing to the U21 side. He made his senior debut in the 1994-'95 National Hurling League but only played once for Cork in a championship season.
In 1989 he was part of the Glen Rovers team that won the SHC before coaching took priority.
“I have coached from U14 to minor and in that time, we won two U16 county championships two minor counties and an U21 county that certainly started a quality group of players coming through the club system."
In that team were Patrick Horgan, Stephen McDonnell, Cathal Hickey and Stephen and Brian Moylan that set the foundation for the resurrection of the Glen over recent years.
In 2008 Tomás Mulcahy was appointed manager and Ian joined Richie Kelleher as part of his coaching staff. Two years later Lynam was called in to the managerial role and with Kelleher once again at his side the Glen reached the final in 2010 before going down to Sars.
“It was a rollercoaster year really as we lost to Na Piarsaigh by 16 points in the first round but we regrouped and only lost in the closing stages to Sars in the final,” added Lynam.
Ian was once again at the helm in 2011 before he decided to take a break with Kelleher. In 2014 Kelleher was asked to take to the managers role and Ian couldn’t resist the opportunity to get working hard in trying to bring the glory years back to the club.
“We had a good run but were hammered by Sars in the final, but we showed tremendous tenacity to defeat the same team by seven points in the 2015 final. In reality, having lost by 16 points in 2014 would have demotivated any side but the lads were determined to end a 26-year drought and it was a 23-point turnaround against a very good Sars side.”
When Ian reflected about his first time in the Glen Rovers hot seat he learned a few sensible lessons.
“In 2010 I tried to be the coach and manager and that cannot be done in the modern game so this season there will be some delegating done with the rest of the selectors.”
When the call came a few months ago to replace Ritchie Kelleher who decided to step down Ian couldn’t refuse the job.
“I got a call from Tomas Mulcahy and felt I owed it to the players to continue but let me add Ritchie Kelleher deserves so much credit for the job he done as it’s a tough role to fill in a club that just love championship success.”
The secret in getting the show together in the top flight isn’t an easy task but Ian is adamant the Glen have a simple formula and this year he will be joined by Graham Callanan, Gavin Moylan, Paddy Cunningham and Dermot McAuliffe.
The players of course are the first priority but having a manager and selectors that sing from the same hymn sheet is secondary and mixing both is the route where you ultimately find success.
“Getting the players to buy into your system is crucial and if they do you are halfway there, and I don’t think we will be changing too many things in our camp as stability is crucial.”
Ensuring a conveyor belt is consistently producing players at underage level is a must according to Ian.
“When we won the 2015 and 2016 county finals was a mixture of three teams that were successful underage as you had the Patrick Horgan era of players, an older group that included Graham Callanan, Brian Moylan and Paddy Cunningham and then a younger group like Dave Dooling and Dave Noonan that got us to two county finals.”
Learning from defeats is crucial as Ian looked back on the 2014 defeat to Sars.
“I have been involved in a lot of dressing rooms over the years, but I will never forget the lads after losing the 2014 final as devastation would be a kind word. It was a case of getting up on the horse again as we knew we hadn’t done a whole lot wrong.
"In a nutshell when you fail to turn up for a final sadly there is a big chance you will get a hiding.”
Losing the 2020 final to Blackrock was a huge disappointment but Ian feels his team had the opportunity to win.
“We had the opportunities in normal time as we got a great start and when you get chances in a final you have to take them but all in all it was a great game that Blackrock ran out deserving winners after extra time and now we have to get our act together for the coming championship.”
The present pandemic is certainly hampering proceedings at both club and inter-county level and Lynam believes this season could be a replica of 2020. “Listening to Pat Horgan the county board vice-chairman he insisted the Cork County Board are waiting on Croke Park and they are waiting on the Government and that’s a situation we have no control over.”
At the moment the Glen lads are doing some individual work but with so much up in the air Lynam believes it will be a very tricky season.
The general health of people is more important than sport according Ian who spoke about his father Noel and how its restricting his movements.
“My father went down to the club ritually on Sunday mornings for a chat with his friends before going home for dinner.
“I passed his house last week and I don’t think his gates have been opened for three months and I am sure they are many elderly folk in every corner in Ireland suffering loneliness and we need to look out for them.”
There is little doubt Ian Lynam is a Glen Rovers diehard as he gets ready to embark on a championship season that we await with bated breath.