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'There is no-one in the team with a big head... John knows when you need a kick up the hole'

Kyle Hayes says that the Limerick boss has played a huge role in creating a grounded atmosphere in the camp.

ALL-IRELAND WINNER KYLE Hayes insists that nobody in the Limerick panel has made the mistake of developing an ego after lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2018.

Bord Gáis Energy GAA Announcement Limerick star forward Kyle Hayes. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

The euphoria that comes with ending a 45-year wait for All-Ireland success lasted “two or three months” according to Hayes, and normality has long since resumed.

But the celebrations never caused a distraction among the Limerick hurlers who capitalised on their winning momentum by capturing the Division 1 crown earlier this year.

Commenting on the root of their success, Hayes points to a grounded atmosphere in the camp.

The players have played a key role in cultivating this environment, while manager John Kiely engages with the players in a manner which reminds Hayes of their former sports psychologist Caroline Currid.

“There is no-one in the team with a big head,” says Hayes.

“If there was, it’d be addressed fairly quick by players. Definitely the management has helped as well. John, to be fair to him, he’s a very good people-manager.

He’s the same as Caroline, he knows every player individually and knows when you need a kick up the hole. It’s good and to be fair, a lot of it comes from the players.

“He’ll approach you and ask you if you need a chat or a coffee. It shows that the manager cares and that’s why you might go that extra mile in a match for him and the rest of the players.

We don’t allow ourselves get a big-headed because at the end of the day, there’s nothing to be big-headed about.

“It’s a new year and a new championship.”

Currid, who was part of All-Ireland wining set-ups in the past, worked with the Limerick hurlers for two years before departing in the aftermath of their triumph last year. Former Galway hurler Tony Óg Regan has since been appointed as her replacement.

Hayes made his senior debut in the Limerick forwards just two years ago, but has already amassed a Young Hurler of the Year award, and a Celtic Cross at just 20 years of age. He was also named man-of-the-match in Limerick’s All-Ireland final win over Galway.

John Kiely with his team Currid standing in a huddle with the Limerick hurlers. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

His level-headed demeanour is certainly evident when he speaks, but he says that he appreciated Currid’s expertise when she was involved with the group. His only regret is that he didn’t avail of her services more before she left.

I would have talked to her over the months and the different ups and downs but I suppose I wouldn’t have really used her as much as I should have. When I talked to her, she was savage.

“It was more of a group talks I thought she was very good and sort of grounded people. If you need that bit of grounding, she’d let you know.

“If you needed a bit of confidence, she’d instil that in you as well. She just got to know us over the two years and she really knew what you needed in certain situations.”

Limerick didn’t feature in the opening round of Munster hurling action last weekend, and will begin their campaign against a Cork side who lost out to Tipperary in their first outing.

Despite not being the Munster champions, Limerick will certainly have a target on their back when they welcome John Meyler’s men to the Gaelic Grounds, something which Hayes and his team-mates are acutely aware of.

The Kildimo-Pallaskenry club man says that “doing a few jobs” on his father’s dairy farm helps him relax away from his hurling commitments.

He’ll need plenty of opportunities to charge up the batteries this week, as Limerick get ready to defend their All-Ireland crown.

“We know we’re gonna have to step up another bar. And to be fair, I think it has in training and the matches we’ve played.

The competition [in the team] is ridiculous. There is no first 15 or second 15 because the second 15 would beat the first 15 as much as the other way around. It’s crazy.

“Everyone has been analysed now. They’ll look at us and say how we won that last year and they’ll obviously try and attack our strengths but every team, if they’re a good team, would be able to back it up then so in the championship we will adapt and we won’t be doing the same thing every game, we’ll try and be unpredictable.”

Bord Gáis Energy have unveiled plans that will allow its Rewards Club customers to take advantage of even more Unmissable Rewards throughout the championship season.

#HurlingToTheCore ambassador Kyle Hayes was in Dublin for the announcement.

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