Cáit Lynch’s return trip to Croke Park took a few twists and turns – from scuba diving in the Caribbean to launching a new beer in Honduras – but Kerry’s seasoned defender is eager to take on Meath in the final. from Lidl NFL Division 2 on Saturday. .
The Castleisland player Desmonds has managed to combine a busy professional life with travel and football and has left her mark everywhere, including an IPA beer she helped launch on a small island called Utilia, offshore. from Honduras.
Turning 29 this week, the TG4 All Star defender has toured Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and Honduras, but it was the latter and the small island north of the continent that really captured her imagination.
His challenge on Saturday is to silence a dangerous attack from Meath in the Lidl National Football League Division 2 final. Lynch loves to test her limits, whether it’s cruising with a group of divers around a Caribbean reef or learning Spanish from a Guatemalan host family who speak only the native language, it feeds on adversity.
“Growing up, I wouldn’t have traveled alone. I happened to end up moving to Amsterdam with my job, ”said Lynch.
“I had wanted to travel with friends, which other people do, but it didn’t work with people in terms of timing. A friend of mine told me to try it for yourself and see how it goes, if you want you can go home.
“With this little advice, I said I was going to give it a try. For me it was a challenge and I wouldn’t have been too comfortable doing it. But it was a good challenge and it paid off.
Lynch made her debut with Kerry in 2012, the same year she won her All-Star. She also won an O’Connor Cup with UCC that year, where Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh was one of her teammates.
The good times continued, and in 2013 Lynch was part of a Kerry squad that won League Division 2 and added a Munster crown to it. In 2014, she helped Castleisland Desmonds win an All-Ireland intermediate title and she became captain of the kingdom the following year.
All of the success came so quickly for Lynch, but working with Bord Bia meant she made it to the Netherlands in 2016 and her life changed on and off the pitch.
“I had been living abroad for the last few years and when I was in Amsterdam I played Gaelic football, but I also learned the Australian rules for the first time,” said Lynch.
Her next destination was Central America and it is there that she has some of her most extraordinary memories.
“I went to a Spanish school in Guatemala and lived with a Guatemalan family for a while while I was there,” she said. “But I was too impatient when I went to live with them, I didn’t have any Spanish and they didn’t have any English. The first few days were tough, but we made it through and I didn’t starve to death, which was the main thing. ”
She traveled through Belize and to Mexico, then crossed the country to Mexico City before returning to Honduras. She was in Mexico for a few months, but her most memorable outing was on Day of the Dead.
It is a national holiday celebrated on November 1 and 2, where Mexicans come together to remember their deceased family and friends.
“It was an incredible experience. They had huge parades in Mexico City and we went to Oaxaca, which really celebrates it there, ”Lynch said.
“They organize parties in cemeteries. It’s totally different from our approach to death and grief, but it was amazing. It has been a few days that I will remember well.
“It’s amazing, they all drink and sing and even have Mariachi bands in the cemeteries.”
And after that, Lynch’s love affair with Utila began. She had only planned to stay in Honduras for a few months, but that quickly turned into a year. It was the locals and the way of life – but also the scuba diving – that really attracted her.
Lynch completed her open water diving training from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and became a divemaster. This allowed him to take groups of people to explore the reef.
She has spent the year swimming with nurse sharks, bottlenose dolphins, octopuses, stingrays and barracudas, and looks forward to the day when she can return.
“I have only dived once since returning to Ireland. I am definitely a hot weather diver. I was broke for having done all my dives in the Caribbean, ”Lynch joked.
“But it was amazing, being there for a year, you can see how the reef changes and see the world from a different perspective. It’s a completely different underwater world.
“Going diving every day was great. Getting the money to do it and showing people the fabulous things the reef has to offer was even better. And luckily I never had any problems. My dives were great.
“But when you’re leading divers, you really have to watch out for everything, especially new divers. There is certainly a lot of responsibility in that, ”added Lynch, who will soon take on a new position as purchasing manager at Lidl.
And from leading young divers to the water, she now leads this team of Kerry as one of the most experienced members of it.
When Lynch returned to Ireland her dream was to come back in a Kerry shirt but 15 minutes after her second comeback for County against Cavan she ended up with a broken wrist.
She is now ready for another championship campaign after her very first free-kick shootout a fortnight ago against Monaghan.
It might be a long way from Utila Reef, but Lynch is excited to get up to Croke Park and have the chance to be promoted to the top level again.
“It will be a huge battle,” Lynch said.
“We played Meath in the first round of the league this year and it was a very difficult game. They are a well-oiled machine at this point, having also won the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate title last year.
“But for us to get out of Division 2, that would be great. We have been here for a few years now. I wasn’t playing in the League last year but the team was just flying, they were undefeated until Covid struck.
“Their goal was to get out of Division 2 and play in Division 1 this year. Sadly, the League wasn’t over and we don’t know if we would be out.
“It was a really big goal for the team last year and it still is this year.”