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'We scored 3-16 in the 2018 All-Ireland, two points more in one half this year. It’s incredible.'

Gearoid Hegarty and his Limerick team-mates savoured another All-Ireland title win yesterday.

WHEN LIMERICK WERE crowned All-Ireland champions last December, Gearoid Hegarty was the star of the show.

gearoid-hegarty-celebrates-with-the-liam-maccarthy Gearoid Hegarty celebrates with the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

He picked up the man-of-the-match award, largely due to a stunning scoring display that yielded 0-7 against Waterford.

Eight months on he was again savouring that winning feeling in an All-Ireland decider, bettering that 2020 scoring tally with a return of 2-2 in the 2021 instalment. The pair of goals he blasted home in the first half set the tone for an extraordinary scoring display by the champions.

“You want your best performance to be in an All-Ireland final and All-Ireland semi-final,” reflected the St Patrick’s club man afterwards.

“To get that performance in the first half was incredible. We scored 3-18 in the first half. We scored 3-16 in the 2018 All-Ireland, two points more in one half this year. it’s incredible.

“It comes from all the work we do in training, before training, after training even. The enjoyment is the feeling of going back trianing in April and we’re doing runs out in Rathkeale in Neville Park, one of the coldest places in the world. and it’s horrendous, you’re basically doing pre-season because we had a couple of months off after the All-Ireland in December. You’re thinking, ‘This is the worst thjing ever.’ The enjoyment is looking back on those nights.”

gearoid-hegarty-celebrates-scoring-the-third-goal Gearoid Hegarty celebrates scoring Limerick's third goal. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The variety of scoring options in the Limerick team stood out. 13 different players contributed in that area, with all six starting forwards having split the posts by half-time.

Peter Casey had to limp off injured in the opening half, yet had already been highly influential.

“I just asked him in there what he scored before he came off – five points in 27 minutes like,” said Hegarty.

“And Seamus’s pass to Aaron for the goal, incredible. They play for each other. There’s no selfishness. There’s no selfishness on our team. the man in the best position gets the ball 99 times out of 100.

“That’s the way it has to be. It’s drilled into us by the management team, there’s no choice in the matter. The man in the best position has to get the ball. There’s no single person looking for the plaudits. Whoever gets it, gets it.”

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gearoid-hegarty-with-his-family-after-the-game Gearoid Hegarty with his family after the game.

There was satisfaction yesterday at getting to share the success with fans, a communal experience for Limerick hurling after the surreal experience of the 2020 winter championship played out in empty stadiums.

“Last year was great, obviously, having a championship when we didn’t know whether it was going to go ahead or not. But that was different. To be able to see your family afterwards – I met my mother and father there, I met my brother and sisters, I met my uncle and some of my closest friends. I guess that is special. We’re almost back to normality. It wasn’t a full stadium today but it felt like it.

“The parade is something that I think is incredible. It’s a staple of the culture of Ireland. The amount of energy you can feel inside in that parade. Especially today, when it wasn’t a full stadium, it was like golden tickets before the game. So people were giving it that bit extra, there were just delighted to be there and delighted to be back to normality. The parade is amazing. It’s something you look forward to and you have to feed off that energy.”

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