John Hetherton remains eager to impress
By Cian O’Connell
On the Dublin hurlers greatest days of the past decade John Hetherton had an access all areas pass.
A son of Ciaran, a totemic figure in the Dublin game, John carried the water and spare hurleys during the 2011 Allianz Hurling League and 2013 Leinster Championship triumphs.
Anthony Daly was spreading the hurling word with Richie Stakelum and Ciaran Hetherton contributing so much to a glorious stint in the capital.
“I used to help them out, I used to do the hurls on the line, do the water and stuff,” Hetherton smiles about a distinguished and decorated time.
“Being on the bus on the way you'd have memories from when they won the League in 2011 and 2013 when they won the Leinster Championship. Them are the days you want to see Dublin hurling back competing in and competing for.
“To get that experience, although I wasn't playing or part of it, is something I'll always have with me and something I strive to get myself.”
Now 26 Hetherton is certainly doing his bit under Mattie Kenny’s guidance in the early months of the 2019 campaign. Trying to help Dublin to become a force again is one of Hetherton’s ambitions. “Definitely, when they were at that level they were unlucky not to get to an All Ireland Final in 2013,” Hetherton states.
“Dublin probably should have probably built on that going forward, but there has been a dip for a few years. I think we are on the right track and we are building again for the different games coming up.”
Having scored seven points in Dublin’s two Allianz Hurling League wins over Carlow and Offaly, Hetherton is relishing being involved. “It is what every player wants: game time,” Hetherton admits. “It is what every player trains for so to be able to be given that chance to get a lot of game time it is great for the year.
“It is great going forward. For myself personally hopefully I can build on it so I can help out the team come Championship. There is optimism back again. We had a good year of performances last year and this year going forward we have progressed on from that. Each week we are building, we are looking forward to the tests ahead.”
Hetherton acknowledges the role occupied by new manager Mattie Kenny, who faces his native county, Galway, at Pearse Stadium on Sunday. “Mattie is very good in terms of our drill work, our speed work with our hurling,” Hetherton remarks. “I don't think any stone is left unturned. We are working hard and we are working towards the tests coming our way. We will go out to give it a shot.”
That is precisely what the 26 year-old Garda intends to do with the Hetherton family steeped in GAA tradition. His parents Ciaran and Patsy both represented Dublin in Camogie and hurling, and Hetherton laughs when asked to reveal how he ended up playing for St Vincent’s rather than Craobh Chiarain, the club his father served with distinction.
“Dad is Ciaran's, my mam is Vincent's,” Hetherton explains. “When I was starting off Ciaran's actually didn't have a team my age, I was playing three years older.
“I was with them for a week or two, but then I went over to Vincent's where there was a team only two years older than me. I stayed with them until there was a team my age.
“I stayed with Vincent's, my two younger brothers Kevin and Alan came in, they joined Ciaran's. Michelle and Niamh they both play Camogie for Vincent's, Michelle plays football for Ciaran's and Niamh plays football for Clontarf.”
All have contributed handsomely to the various teams with which they are involved and that is precisely why Hetherton wants to seize this opportunity being afforded to him by Kenny in the sky blue shirt.
“This is the first year when I'm starting as opposed to coming on or being on the bench,” Hetherton states. “I'm loving it that way, I'm getting game time and I'm getting a bit of responsibility. Hopefully I can keep it going.
Is it down to anything in particular? “Just a bit of form,” Hetheton modestly replies. “We did a good pre-season, I worked on that.
“As the games came in I suppose I didn't do too badly and it all comes down to workrate. I made a conscious decision to work on that this year. It can be upped again, but going forward I just need to do my best with that.”
The recent signs are encouraging for Hetherton and Dublin.