Cian Lynch believes that Limerick’s All-Ireland senior hurling final victory is firmly rooted in the work that the county’s players started at underage level.
Limerick ended a 45-year wait to bring Liam MacCarthy back to the Treaty County when the edged to a thrilling 3-16 to 2-18 victory over Galway at Croke Park.
Lynch and his team-mates had to survive a late fight-back from Galway before snatching a deserved victory, and the Patrickswell man claims that lessons learned with John Kiely at Under-21 level, proved to be crucial.
Kiely was in charge of Limerick's Under-21 team in 2015 when they won the All-Ireland title and as senior manager he has helped to bring through Lynch along with the likes of Pat Casey, Darragh O'Donovan, Gearoid Hegarty, Diarmuid Byrnes, Tom Morrissey and Sean Finn.
That conveyor belt of players from the Under-21 to the senior team has led to talk of a golden generation in Limerick, while Lynch believes that their experience as a group cannot be underestimated.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Lynch said: "At the start of year and since 2015, John was with us, with the Under-21s then, we kind of had this never say die attitude.
"We kept the heads down and kept working away. I remember we played Tipperary with the Under-21s and no one game us a chance, John and the backroom team told us to just focus on that game and we went out and luckily enough got a great start.
"We went over and beat Tipperary and against all the odds won the Under-21 All-Ireland.
"And this year again from the start of the year, we started off with Waterford in the league, kept the heads down, took every game as it came and drove onto the league itself.
"Every game was a stepping stone and that’s what we focused on, we never looked too far ahead, never got too carried away. We kept the heads on the ground."
Lynch also paid tribute to the county's supporters, who appeared to outnumber Galway fans in Croke Park and who roared on their side to victory.
"It was brilliant and to see the crowd yesterday, to hear that roar when we came out from under the stand, I never felt anything like it.
"To feel the ground shake and to look up at the green supporters was just unbelievable.
"For today it’s just unbelievable to see. Even last night to walk into the banquet and see the tables and see the familiar faces, everyone that you’ve soldiered with up along the different management teams you’ve been with underage and through the schools and back to the club. It’s surreal."