Limerick U21 captain Kyle Hayes quietly confident ahead of championship defence.
Limerick open the defence of their U21 All Ireland Championship against Clare this Bank Holiday Monday in Ennis at 5.45pm. The U21 Munster Championship is a straight knockout competition so Limerick know a loss will signal the end of their title aspirations.
Vice-Captain Peter Casey, who has two U21 All Ireland medals, will miss out on the championship through injury Kyle Hayes will captain the side after a stellar summer last year when he was nominated for U21 hurler of the year. At the launch of the championship we caught up with the Kildimo-Pallaskenry man to get his thoughts ahead of what promises to be a brilliant clash.
“I was injured for a nice period just before and after Christmas, so I got a break from it all but over the last few months it was nice to get back and I was fresh.”
“(On the format) It brings an added bite to the game, you win you’re through, if you lose you’re gone and I think that adds to the atmosphere not just of the game but of the championship.”
Although Limerick have lost some key players from the title winning side of 2017, 15 of last years squad remains with seven of them a part of John Kiely’s senior panel. Casey and Hayes are the only ones to have Senior championship experience but the latter is in no doubt of the quality of the players at manager Pat Donnelly’s disposal and is looking forward to another year at the U21 grade.
“There’s five starters but a right few subs still around so we would have a strong team again this year.
You know you have your experience, but everyone is the same, they’ve all hurled for Limerick at some stage underage.
It’s nice to get a break from the seniors and get back down to the guys your own age and catch up with them.”
Last year, Limerick overcame Clare in the Munster Semi-final in the Gaelic Grounds on a scoreline of 1-28 to 1-15, a game that Limerick dominated from start to finish. But with the nature of the overhaul of players in the U21 grade, Hayes is expecting a hard assignment against Clare in Cusack Park, yet is confident in his sides chances come monday.
“Expecting a tough game whenever you play Clare at any age, especially in Ennis. They’ll have that added advantage.
But all we can do is go out there and give it 100\% and once we give that I think we can get over the line.”
Check out the full interview with Kyle on our Youtube channel below.
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