A grateful parish extended a big ‘thank you’ at the weekend to a favourite son when he brought the curtain down on a glittering career, writes John Knox.
Derek Lyng, winner of six senior hurling All-Irelands, was feted by his club Emeralds (Urlingford) after announcing that he was finished playing and would now be concentrating his efforts of his role as a senior selector with Kilkenny.
“Our club couldn’t have had a better ambassador,” insisted club chairman, Jimmy Tone, when he paid tribute to a man who often battled through the pain barrier in the line of duty.
Lyng, now 35, had given nearly a quarter of a century of service in the colours but he reckoned he had little left to offer.
A hip injury was part of the reason why Lyng retired from the inter-county game in 2010. That problem persisted and this season he was dogged by a knee injury, but he helped Emeralds qualify for the intermediate final, which they lost to the Rower-Inistioge.
“It would have been nice to have won that final to crown his career,” Mr Tone continued. “But he can look back on a career anyone would have been proud of.”
During his time with Kilkenny the medical rep with GlaxoSmithKline won six senior All-Irelands; nine Leinster championships; four National Leagues; three Walsh Cups, an Oireachtas, one under-21 All-Ireland (1999) and twice he was honoured as an All-Star (2002-03).
He was on four Leinster Railway Cup winning teams. With his club he won Kilkenny junior, minor hurling Roinn B and C championship honours.
“I would loved to be able to stay playing, but it is not possible,” Derek said. “It all had to come to an end some day, so now is as good a time as any. I suppose I got a few good years out of it.”
The Parochial Hall in Urlingford was packed to capacity and over 160 people were treated to a sit down meal. The attendance included Derek’s wife, Evelyn, his parents John and Anne, sisters Kay and Tara and members of Evelyn’s family.
“It was very nice of the club to do what it did, and it was greatly appreciated,” Derek told the ’People. “The club was always very good to me and supportive when playing with the county, and I will never forget that.
“The Emeralds club will always be a part of me, and I will help it whenever and whatever way I can,” he added.
Mr Lyng was presented with a glass vase and gift voucher by the club.
“He is not walking away, he is moving on to the next stage of his career,” Mr Tone said. “If he enjoys as much success as a selector with Kilkenny as he did when a player a few other counties might not be too fond of him.
“To all of us in the club he is a role model, and the young players look up to and respect him.”
Derek is in the early days of his involvement with Kilkenny, and he is enjoying what is a whole new experience as the Selection Committee that includes Brian Cody, Michael Dempsey and James McGarry puts the finishing touches to the new panel for 2014.
“We are all looking forward to the season ahead,” he insisted. “Most certainly there is a huge desire among young players to play with Kilkenny, and they want to be successful with the county. The season ahead promises to be an exciting one.”