Hurling & Camogie

Gearoid Hegarty never had a doubt Limerick would come good against Kilkenny

Gearóid Hegarty lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup at Croke Park on Sunday. Picture by Séamus Loughran
Gearóid Hegarty lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup at Croke Park on Sunday. Picture by Séamus Loughran Gearóid Hegarty lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup at Croke Park on Sunday. Picture by Séamus Loughran

Gearoid Hegarty never had any doubt that Limerick were going to come with a 'purple patch' to see off Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final.

Down by five points with 44 minutes on the clock on Sunday, the former Hurler of the Year simply knew Limerick would come up with the correct response, eventually reeling off 19 of the game's last 24 points to win at their ease.

But how exactly did he know and why was he so certain?

"Good question, yeah," said attacker Hegarty, pausing for thought. "I just honestly think inside that Limerick dressing-room that you have some of the most competitive people I've ever come across in my life.

"I like to think that I'm an extremely competitive person, I even struggle at times when I'm not with those lads in other settings. Say, if I'm playing golf or just doing anything, and other people don't match my competitiveness.

"I get buckets of people in that Limerick dressing room that are as competitive as I am and I just think we hate losing.

"We hate losing and no matter what situation we're in, like, we were 10 points down in a Munster final a couple of years ago (and came back)...we don't panic, we never feel like we're beaten and it was the same thing again.

"We didn't panic and we knew that it was a long way to go. I honestly just think it comes from there."

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Still only 28, Hegarty now has five All-Ireland medals to his name and will go down as a key member of a four-in-a-row winning team. History is all around him but he remains blissfully unmoved.

"I'd like to say this one meant more to me, honestly, but personally I just don't place much importance on winning four-in-a-row - I just wanted a fifth All-Ireland medal," he said.

"That was all that was on my mind, I just wanted another All-Ireland medal in my back pocket. That's all that mattered to me.

"I don't get too caught up in the whole four-in-a-row thing and, look, next year I know there will be massive talk about the five-in-a-row.

"Maybe in time I will look back and say, 'Yeah, okay, what an unbelievable achievement to win four-in-a-row', and of course it is an unbelievable achievement, but all I wanted personally was to get another All-Ireland medal because they're so, so hard to win."

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Limerick trailed Kilkenny by six at the half-hour mark and by five with just over 25 minutes of normal time remaining.

"Obviously we weren't happy with how we performed but we knew we were going to have a purple patch and when we got it we knew we had to make it count, and we did," said Hegarty. "And it was just awesome.

"I can't wait to go back and watch it because it was incredible to be out there during that purple patch. I don't know how long it lasted, I don't know how many points we scored in a row but it felt like we were just scoring at will at times. It was awesome."

Chances are Limerick should be even stronger next season when they set about the drive for five.

Captain Declan Hannon, Sean Finn, Richie English and Jimmy Quilty - all absent for the final because of injuries - should be back while Cian Lynch will hope to be at full fitness.

"Yeah but you just never know what's going to happen over the coming months," cautioned Hegarty.

"Hopefully we'll come back as strong and push on again next year but sport is amazing in the way things can change so quickly.

"I went up to the stand afterwards to get to my parents, they were way up in the back of the lower Hogan, and Hammy Dawson, who would be an absolute stalwart of St Patrick's GAA, was roaring in about the five-in-a-row.

"And I just said to him, 'Forget about next year, just enjoy what we've done today!' Because it is so, so hard to beat Kilkenny in an All-Ireland final. We did it last year, we did it this year. We have to just enjoy that and by God will we enjoy it."