Kyle Hayes: A man for the big occasion

On my commute home from UL each day, about half-way home I pass a rural village in West Limerick that recently undertook a name change.

In the wake of the success of its most famous sporting son, the welcoming signs in Kildimo were aptly changed to read ‘Kyledimo’ in a salute to Kyle Hayes who has taken the hurling world by storm.

In just his second season aged 20-years-of-age, Hayes was awarded Man of the Match as Limerick secured their first All-Ireland title in 45 long years.

On that day, Hayes was unplayable, shooting 0-4 with Marty Morrissey even commenting during his personal tour-de-force,

“Kildimo-Pallaskenry, they’re going to build you a monument Kyle at just 20-years-of-age if you keep up this form, look at this!”

It might not be a monument but renaming your home village in your honour isn’t so bad.

Not to rest on his laurels however, Hayes was at it again last Sunday with another imperious performance, this time in the Munster final.

Bettering his four-point haul from the All-Ireland final, Hayes would notch 1-2, including the crucial second goal as Limerick won the Munster Championship for the first time since 2013.

Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Final, LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 30/6/2019 Tipperary vs Limerick Limerick’s Kyle Hayes celebrates scoring a goal Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

From the very first whistle, Hayes was on his game leading by example in the Limerick half-forward line which have proven so effective under John Kiely.

Having got a taste of Padraig Maher’s game in Thurles two weeks earlier, Hayes performance nullified the Tipperary lynchpin as he was unable to get a hold of the Kildimo-Pallaskenry man’s movement.

His goal in the 55th perfectly sums up his performance and the skill of the man.

Tipperary had position around their 65’ looking to launch an attack.

Hayes would get a block on the clearance which fell in the path of Gearoid Hegarty who delivered a ball into Peter Casey.

James Barry intercepted the ball and broke out past the Na Piarsaigh man who got a deft touch on the sliotar before Barry could get it into his hand.

The ball broke to none other than Kyle Hayes who had sprinted 45 metres in anticipation of such an occurrence despite there being no visible danger.

Cooly he finished past Brian Hogan, who had thwarted a number of Limerick attempts on the day.

In one short move Hayes demonstrated his savage workrate but also coolness in possession as he began and finished the move that would put Limerick six ahead as they never looked back.

His final score was another beauty firing over from half-way after jinking past the Tipperary defence.

This performance has become expected from Hayes who has also shown his worth on the big stage at underage level.

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As full forward and captain of the Limerick minor team for the All-Ireland final, Hayes was a solid option at the edge of the square causing plenty of problems for a Tipperary side who eased to victory in the end.

A year later he would truly announce himself to the country with a defiant performance for the Limerick U21 team at centre-back as he staved off a dangerous Kilkenny attacking unit, earning an U21 Hurler of the Year nomination in the process.

With another All-Ireland semi-final on the horizon, the performance of the ‘Kyledimo’ native will be key once more.

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