Kyle Hayes says Limerick talent coming through
By Cian O'Connell
Two All Ireland Under 21 titles in three years means Limerick enter the 2018 Allianz Hurling League and Championship brimful of optimism.
Talented youngsters have acquired a winning habit with Limerick serious competitors in Munster in the underage ranks recently.
Ardscoil Rís have been joined on the Harty Cup stage by other progressive second level outfits in the county, while Mary I, LIT, and UL are all leading Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup teams.
Capable hurlers are being manufactured, so unsurprisingly the versatile Kyle Hayes is relishing this summer’s schedule. “I think it will suit Limerick to be honest because we are a young team,” Hayes says regarding the new Championship format.
“The more experience we get the more we will come on. Even last year we only had two matches and we lost both of them, but we played a lot better against Kilkenny the second day up in Nowlan Park. This year as the campaign goes on I think we can go from strength to strength.
“It is definitely suiting a team like us. Even in training, we worked very hard last year and we will do the same this year, but at least we are guaranteed four games this year and hopefully a bit more after that.”
Significant time and energy has been invested in Limerick’s Academy structure throughout the past decade with Hayes acknowledging its importance.
“Definitely, Cian Lynch's age are probably the first from the Academy and from there you see all the talent that is coming through,” Hayes responds.
“It is great work done there, in fairness. A lot of other counties are trying to copy what Limerick started. Hopefully in years to come you will see the pinnacle, Liam MacCarthy being back in Limerick. That is the plan.”
Having sampled glory at Under 21 level Limerick are dealing with rising expectations, but Hayes isn’t too perturbed believing this exciting new crop can cope.
“Exactly, the first 21s in 2015 and last year as well so there is a lot of us on it, people are expecting major things this year and hopefully we can provide something for them,” Hayes says.
“From Under 14s up we have been used to winning. It is just a mentality at this stage. Any time we go out on the pitch we expect to win, nothing short of that. Even if it is a challenge, Munster League, League or Championship we want to win everything we can.”
Hayes acknowledges the impact of Anthony Daly, who was involved with Limerick’s minor teams for a couple of campaigns.
“A major influence,” is Hayes’ assessment. “My first year at minor would have been when I was 17. We would never had a trainer like him, it was a major step-up.
“Way more intense, he took everything a lot more serious, diet and nutrition, everything came on. He taught me a load of small things that made a major difference in my career.
“All the lads were in the same boat as myself looking up to him there for the first few months. You just have to put the head down then to do the work. He is a great motivator and talker, he gets you going.”
Hayes will miss Sunday’s Co-op Superstores Munster Hurling League Final due to a groin injury, but he hopes to return for the Allianz Hurling League.
A minor in 2016, Hayes proved ready, willing, and able to compete at the highest level as a teenager last year.
“I was in awe for the first few weeks or month of training, all these fellas I looked up to were around me,” Hayes smiles. “I started to train then, I got over it after a month or two.
“I have settled in now at this stage. I've no excuses anymore. It is easy enough to get used to, it is a lifestyle really, you would get used to that after a few months."
Hayes has adapted quickly; a promising future looms in Limerick.