Irish Daily Mirror


Hegarty: There were question marks about my discipline so for the good of the team I knew I had to dial it back


GEAROID HEGARTY accepts he had to “dial it back” as his playing style was in danger of derailing Limerick.

But it was better that that was his dilemma instead of having to reach for a level of aggression that wasn’t really at hand, he believes.

The 27-year-old was issued with a straight red card during Limerick’s League tie with Galway in February for a striking offence on Joseph Cooney, which pundit Donal Og Cusack (inset) noted was “coming to him a while”.

It was a lesson he had to take on board and the evidence is that he has, even allowing for his red card for two bookings against Clare in Ennis, which would surely have been rescinded if an avenue to challenge the decision was open to him.

“I’m big into psychology and I’m big into reviewing and reflecting on stuff and getting feedback, good and bad,” Hegarty explains.

“That’s a part of my game over the past few years that I’ve tried to improve on massively and I think I have.

“There were discipline question marks around me for a while and maybe there still is, I don’t know, but I knew I was never… you have to play on the edge because if you don’t, you’ll be absolutely crucified out there.

“I was going slightly too far maybe and I just had to dial it back a small bit but it’s a bit easier dial it back than have to dial it up maybe.”

Although Hegarty would have incurred a red card at any time of year for the Cooney incident, he concedes that the more liberal attitude of referees come the back end of the season plays to his physicalit­y.

“I love the way the Championsh­ip is reffed towards the end because, especially in the League, the League is like a different sport.

“Then you get into the first couple of rounds of the Championsh­ip and there’s a lot of soft frees given.

“Once you get to the end of the Championsh­ip, you’ve to be killed to get a free and I love that.

“Both on and off the ball. You know you’re not going to get handy frees and you know you can hit hard.”

Discipline was as much a Limerick problem as it was specific to Hegarty, however. And, with no Limerick player cautioned in either the semi-final or final, they appear to have gotten on top of it.

The likelihood of individual­s being singled out by opposition, Hegarty chief among them, and how they would deal with it is something they had addressed as a group.

“We know certain fellas are going to get targeted. I know I’m one of those fellas that can get targeted because maybe there is a narrative out there that I can be got at.

“If I was in the opposition’s shoes I’d try and get at me as well, try and put me off my performanc­e.

“Paul [Kinnerk] told me something years ago, I remember going in in 2019, I think we played Dublin in the League.

“They were very physical with us that day and these are all learning experience­s that you pick up along the way but he said to me, ‘If the opposition goes out and your marker is given a job on you to stop you from hurling, if you’re engaging with him then you’re giving oxygen to his performanc­e. You just pretend as if he’s not there, you’re suffocatin­g him. That’s the way you’ve got to be out there.’

“At times it’s hard, especially when the game isn’t going well.

“It’s a little harder if a fella is getting at you but yeah, it’s definitely something that we would talk about because in the past we have had red cards and we’ve kind of got away with them, thankfully, but y o u can’t afford to lose a man out there.”

After he struck a wide in the first half of the

All-ireland final, a Kilkenny opponent seized the opportunit­y to get in his ear.

“I’d about 1-3 got at that stage so I was kind of happy enough.

“Yeah, look, if it comes in the first minute and you’ve a bad wide you may react differentl­y or it may take it in differentl­y but, yeah, I just got on with it.

“I was happy enough at that stage, keep going, bad wide, fair enough but just get on with it, respond.”

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