Hegarty savours All-Ireland joy with friends and family
By John Harrington
Gearoid Hegarty’s celebrations in the minutes after Limerick’s All-Ireland Final win over Cork on Sunday were much like his performance during the match itself – high energy.
As he waited on the sideline for the final whistle to blow he’d already corralled those around him into a group embrace.
And when Fergal Horgan eventually called time on the match he bounded onto the pitch to share his joy with every team-mate he could.
As he usually does after big Limerick victories, his ultimate destination was his house-mate and good friend, Sean Finn.
The two of them stuck their foreheads together and locked eyes for a second to savour the moment, and then after the Cup was presented could be found bounding in front of the Canal End with it held aloft between them.
Supporters mightn’t be able to invade the pitch anymore, but no steward was going to stop Hegarty invading the Cusack Stand a few moments later when he spotted his uncle Joe in the crowd.
The small wall in front of the stand wasn’t much of an obstacle for the Limerick wing-forward’s long-legs, so over he jumped and a second later he and his uncle were sharing a very special family moment.
“Unbelievable, unbelievable,” Hegarty told GAA.ie when asked what that embrace felt like.
“He actually said to me that Limerick people have been waiting such a long time for the county to be competitive.
“I said it recently to you there that Limerick teams in the past might have a year here or a year there but haven't been consistently competing at the top level. We finally have a team competing at the top level but the supporters couldn't watch us for the last however long.
“Even to be able to give my uncle a ticket, I sent it on to him on the phone the other day, look, it's just a great day.
“It feels great. I was talking to you there after the Waterford game (the 2020 All-Ireland Final) and that was a great feeling of course winning that All-Ireland Final, but you want to win it in a setting like this when the fans are back. So it's unreal, it's unreal.”
Hegarty, of course, played a huge part in Limerick’s win over Cork.
They produced the greatest first half of hurling ever seen in an All-Ireland Final to effectively settle the match in the first 35 minutes, and Hegarty was the executioner in chief with 2-2 from play.
“Yeah, it was amazing,” he said. “We had a lot of work done by half-time but you have to play for 70 minutes and we knew that Cork would come out in the third quarter and throw everything at us and I think we handled it pretty well in the third quarter and were well up there in the last couple of minutes which is great. It was a nice feeling, completely different to 2018 when we were here and won by a point.
“It was a nice feeling to be sitting down on the bench with five minutes to go when the game was over. I just can't wait now for the next few days.”