In 2014, hurling was to the back of the mind of the current Hurler of the Year elect Gearid Hegarty as he threw in his lot with the Limerick Senior Footballers.
With little appetite for hurling at the time, Hegarty reflected on the importance of that exposure to top level training today as he was awarded the PWC GAA/GPA Player of the Month award after bagging 0-7 en route to winning a second All-Ireland Hurling medal in Decemeber.
“I’ve said before that I wouldn’t be where I am without the footballers. That’s something I am extremely proud of. John Brudair, who was the owner of the FIT 100 gym that we work in, was the Limerick senior football manager and trained our club team for a few years. He asked me to go in and I went in because in 2014 I wasn’t really playing much hurling. Ciaran Carey was the U21 Hurling manager and he asked me to come in and I wasn’t really in the right place and it’s something I regret. I just wasn’t there with hurling. I had two years with the minors and I never really got a look in. Then I got a break with the footballers, and I was really enjoying my club football.”
“Every single team around the county, in hurling or football, whether they succeed or not, they train hard. There was some really top level players in there, I had one year with John Galvin, Stephen Kelly, Stephen Lucey and it showed me how hard you have to work to get to where you want to go. So without a doubt, I wouldn’t be where I am without it.”
Hegarty was a part of both senior set ups in the county in 2016 before committing solely to the hurlers in his second year under new manager John Kiely.
Since then they have combined for a pair of All-Ireland, Munster and League medals with Limerick out in front in the football landscape.
The St Patricks man’s transformation into the all conquering wing-forward has been incredible as he praised the work of the Limerick management in his ascent.
“I wouldn’t have got to where I am without the people I’m exposed to. I’ve said it before but the management team that John has put in place is incredible. I’m quite a reflective person and this year I watched back the matches and my own clips, reflect on what I did well and what I’ve to work on. This year I would have asked for a lot more help than before in terms of going to Caroline Currid our sports psychologist or Paul (Kinnerk). Id go to Mikey on a Monday in the gym. This year I really went out of my way to ask more questions.”
Interestingly, Hegarty outlined a key difference in his preparation in 2020 was his commitment to doing less.
After years of extra-work, he highlighted how in listening to the advise of experts in the backroom team has allowed him to develop his game with the added freshness, something which has him as the heavy favourite to land the Hurler of the Year gong.
“I think in past years I was doing too much and I was burning myself out and I wasn’t super fresh coming into games. Over the past number of years I have done an incredible amount of work to get to where I am today. Any player on a county team is going to have to put in serious work to get there. When you get there, they (management) know what they’re doing so that’s enough. So this year I stopped doing the ridiculous amount of work and started doing what was set out for us because that’s enough. Then you’re fresh going out to the game.”
As for now, it is feet up for Hegarty who is now conscious of taking a break whenever the chance is limited as he knows there is a busy season ahead once competitions resume.
“I’ve really made it my business to take a break from everything. We haven’t met up at all. We met up after the game obviously but other than that, there’s been no contact from the group. I haven’t thought about the year ahead at all. Physically and mentally I have it parked because when we do go back it’s going to be a real quick turnaround. So you’re going to need to be physically and mentally fresh. It will be my main priority when it rolls back in a couple of weeks but for now I’m completely taking a break from it all.”
Watch the full interview with Hegarty below!
Or conversely, listen in full here.