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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# Reaction
'It was something we had in the back of our minds for months' - Limerick hand Kyle Hayes new role
Limerick boss John Kiely on the 2018 Young Hurler of the Year filling a new role in the win over Cork.

KYLE HAYES WAS Young Hurler of the Year for his exploits with Limerick in 2018 at centre-forward.

robert-downey-and-kyle-hayes Bryan Keane / INPHO Kyle Hayes in action against Robert Downey. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

He was man-of-the-match in that year’s All-Ireland final breakthrough for Limerick, while the last two seasons he has been an All-Ireland winning left half-back, crowned an All-Star twice for his displays.

The Kildimo-Pallaskenry man is a wonderfully versatile hurler and today Limerick boss John Kiely recast his star in a different role. Hayes was pushed into the full-forward berth, the same spot he occupied for his senior championship debut in 2017 under the guidance of Kiely, when he scored a goal.

He repeated that trick today by raising a first-half green flag and also setting up Aaron Gillane’s strike to the net.

With Seamus Flanagan ruled out through injury, when did the Hayes move enter the mind frame of the management?

“No, it was something we had in the back of our minds for a number of months now,” said Kiely.

“Not a direct reaction to Seamus’s injury. Sometimes we’ve to keep ourselves guessing, don’t mind the opposition. Listen I suppose ultimately it’s about just getting a balance to our group and on certain days you feel like you need a little bit more of a different challenge. The energy that Kyle was able to bring to the back of the tackle was incredible today.

“It’s all very well making a change like that but it’s a very difficult ask for a player, who’s played now for two seasons at wing-back to be asked to go up and play in that position, he was asked to play in today. Not every player can do such a thing and make it work. He didn’t get on the ball a lot in the first half. I think he’d two possessions. He got 1-1 from two possessions. He got his tackle count in, worked hard, he didn’t panic, he kept his composure. That’s the job he was asked to do for the team today and he did it.”

cian-lynch-celebrates Bryan Keane / INPHO Cian Lynch celebrates during the game. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Mike Casey returned to championship action for Limerick for the first time since the 2019 All-Ireland semi-final after his injury problems.

“We’ve kind of moved on from that part of it to be honest,” said Kiely.

“He came back in the league and made his debut coming back after injury. He’s moved on; we’ve all moved on from that. He’s no longer the centre of attention in our group.

“He got his own little nod. At the same time it’s great to see him back. We need everybody and need them as much, as often and long as we can.

“We’ve lost a few players. Brian O’Grady did his cruciate two weeks ago in training. Darren O’Connell was out for a number of weeks with ankle ligaments and still is out. Séamus Flanagan hurt his finger and he was out, so we’ve had a lot to contend with over the last couple of weeks.

“This is our third ACL in seven months. It’s hard on the players and Brian is the latest to have to go through that journey. It’s been difficult, yes.”

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Kiely stated he never doubted the capacity of his players to perform, despite an indifferent league campaign.

“Listen, I see them on a Tuesday and a Friday where people see them on a Sunday. We knew the effort and the energy was there on a Tuesday and a Friday when we came back in January. We did struggle to keep that energy flowing for the full week every week and at times we didn’t get the energy exerted out of the group as a whole on a Sunday during the spring that we would like to have had.

“We had a block of work to do during the week to get prepared for the championship. It was just the price we had to pay, really. We were still disappointed with our performances but we wouldn’t at any stage have been in any doubt about what this group are still capable of producing when they get the energy like that on the pitch.

“But, listen, it’s still only Round 1 of a round robin. There’s a long way ahead yet so listen it’s on to next week and the Gaelic Grounds. I think we owe the Gaelic Grounds a better performance this time around than what we’ve given over the last number of weeks. Looking forward to getting that.”

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