Search icon


20th Aug 2018

“That’s the way these young fellas think, they’re a different breed”

Niall McIntyre

For one so young, Kyle Hayes has seen a lot in a Limerick jersey.

Back in 2016, the then 17-year-old first caught the radar of Limerick hurling folk when he put in some powerful displays for the county’s minors at full forward.

That year, Hayes’ threat on the edge of the square brought Limerick all the way to the final hurdle, where they were only denied an All-Ireland minor by Tipperary.

That wouldn’t haunt these Limerick men. They wouldn’t let it. Men like Kyle Hayes, Aaron Gillane, Cian Lynch, Morrissey and co. came back even hungrier the following year and their appetite was rewarded with an All-Ireland under-21 title when they gave Kilkenny a six point trimming in Semple Stadium.

Hayes was two years out of his age that day but a lack of experience or indeed physicality has never held the Kildimo powerhouse back and he lined out at centre back in the decider, holding the whole defence well in Limerick’s most important line.

Earlier that year, Hayes had been located at corner and wing forward for the Limerick seniors as they showed signs of progress in John Kiely’s first year in charge.

So these Limerick youngsters bounded into 2018 with their heads in the sky and their confidence brimming. They’d win their first five competitive matches in the League, one of those a narrow victory over the reigning All-Ireland champions Galway.

The Shannonsiders were announcing themselves now. Eventually they were knocked out of the League after hurling’s first free-taking competition but the League was never the aim.

They’d achieved the progress they set out to – this time around, Kyle Hayes was making himself at home in the number 11 jersey, his deep-lying strong, running game a focal point of their game plan.

This man is a hurler and he’ll play wherever the hell Limerick want him to.

And then the business began. The Treaty started as they meant to go on, hockeying Tipperary in their Munster opener. They came from behind to stage a crucial draw against Cork, Hayes’ last minute point levelling matters.

The great journey continued as they took out Kilkenny and Cork in the quarters and semis, and then beat Galway in the final for a second time this year with 20-year-old Hayes now a man-of-the-match on the biggest stage of all.

That day he gave Gear√≥id McInerney the runaround with his deep-lying centre forward game. He stayed out to a certain point of the pitch, leaving the Galway centre back in no-man’s land and he took advantage of this with four of the finest from play.

His first three years in the Treaty green have been explosive, they’ve been prosperous and with an attitude like his, the good times will keep on rolling.

That’s the type of attitude that saw him perform a recovery session¬†in the City West swimming pool at 10.00 the morning after he’d won the All-Ireland. On top of his answering of every Limerick call in the last three years, it’s clear that this man is as professional as they come.

While Shane Dowling and Aaron Gillane were in bed nursing hangovers, Hayes was up and at it.

I just went for a swim there anyway, I don’t know if the hangovers have hit us yet,” he said to Wooly earlier in the day.

JJ Delaney, Colm Parkinson and Damien Hayes paid tribute to him on The GAA Hour podcast.

“This lad’s going to be a superstar,” said Wooly.

“When Limerick needed him the most, ten minutes after half-time he just took over the whole game, he had a perfect game,” said JJ.

And as for his recovery session in the pool…

“Isn’t this a different breed JJ,” said Wooly, “What’s going on at all… that’s the way these young lads think nowadays,” continued the Laois man.

“I’d never done that myself,” laughed JJ.

“Aw stop, it’s unbelievable,” agreed Damien Hayes.

You can listen to The GAA Hour podcast, featuring analysis, interviews and much more from the All-Ireland final right here.