GAA PREVIEWS Work with psychologist has helped Limerick get over last year's semi-final defeat to Kilkenny says Gearoid Hegarty
They dismissed Clare and were comprehensive winners in a storm against All-Ireland champions Tipperary. Having been chinned by Kilkenny last year, it feels like they have a point to prove to themselves.
That defeat to the Cats in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final stung. And not just because they should have been awarded a late 65 that should have levelled the game but because they let Kilkenny race out of the traps and build a cushion that would eventually see them home.
“Of course it was very tough to take at the time,” Hegarty agreed, as he was named PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for October. “We were massively looking forward to getting back to championship action after the league this year. We were looking forward to the first round of the Munster championship and getting back on the horse and going back at it again trying to get back to Croke Park at the end of July, and the business end of the action again.
“I suppose we processed it, we did a lot of work with Caroline Currid who is our psychologist and it was a very difficult defeat to take. But that’s in the past now and it wouldn’t even be referenced in the lead-up to games, we wouldn't focus on things like that. It was definitely a difficult one to take at a time, but it’s well in the past now. We always look forward and never try to look back too much.”
That policy has served them well. They beat Clare in emphatic fashion, hitting 36 points to secure league silverware as well as a spot in a Munster semi-final.
Liam Sheedy's Tipp were dismissed too. It feels like Limerick are playing like a team that has been holding its breath since action ceased back in March.
“It was a strange couple of months over the summer. When you were normally getting ready to play championship and looking forward to games at the weekend in the nice weather, you were kind of stuck at home and you were not doing too much. Something that kept happening over the summer was on snapchat, I don’t know if many of ye are familiar with it but it gives you memories from last year and the year before and so on and so forth.
"I was getting memories all the time from different championship games that went on in years gone by. It was tough sitting at home I suppose and not having any sport or GAA action to look forward to.”
Limerick have been in brilliant form and Hegarty has been the microcosm of that. They hit an eye watering tally of 0-36 against Clare, all but ten of which came from play from 11 different scorers. However, he sees no need to interfere with the ball despite calls from some quarters to make it heavier.
“It kind of makes me laugh because I’m an avid golf fan as well and there’s a big debate on in golf at the moment as to whether the golf ball needs to be modified because they’re hitting the ball so far.
"Look, I don’t know, I suppose the Clare game was very high-scoring alright in terms of scoring 36 points and obviously they got a lot of scores as well but if you look at the shooting accuracy, the shooting accuracy of both teams that day was extremely high and obviously that feeds into the amount of scores that were scored on the day.
“In 2017 we played Kilkenny above in Nowlan Park in the qualifier and everyone was giving out about our shooting that day. We shot a lot of wides. Do I think the ball needs to be modified? No, I don’t. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want more scores in a game. The more scores the better, in my opinion. I know that’s maybe a forward speaking but high-scoring games are normally entertaining games.
“I think hurling is in a super spot. The quality of hurling even in difficult conditions like we saw last week was quite good and the last couple of hurling championships have been brilliant in my view. I don’t see any need to change anything.”