GEARÓID HEGARTY was embarrassed after a “stupid” red card contributed to Limerick’s defeat by Galway in the Allianz Hurling League in February.
But the 2020 Hurler of the Year is grateful it happened during the league rather than the championship — and he learned an invaluable lesson in the process.
The two-time All-Ireland champion opens his Munster SHC round-robin season in Cork this Sunday.
Limerick rolled over the Rebels with a near-perfect performance in last year’s Liam MacCarthy clash but they initially struggled to find anything like their usual dexterity in the early months of 2022, losing their first three league games and clinching their fourth draw.
They also ran into disciplinary difficulties when Hegarty (vs Galway) and Séamus Flanagan (vs Cork) both sent straight red cards, while Aaron Gillane (vs Clare) picked up two yellow cards.
“Speaking in my own sense was stupid,” admitted Hegarty. “I was embarrassed. It’s a terrible feeling. I’ve never gotten a straight red before, at least not with limerick.”
The two-time All-Star, 27, spoke as a Bord Gáis Ambassador at the launch of their Gift of the GAAB campaign today.
“We were in the game then and I felt like I was throwing really well,” he recalled of the game against Galway.
“Then being sent off after about 45 minutes and having to look after the lads for the last 25 minutes, knowing you want to let down your team-mates, knowing you want to let down everyone who comes in to watch the game to see – my family has been watching and it’s just embarrassing.
“You almost don’t even want to go home and look them in the eye after doing something stupid like that.
“You draw great lessons from these things. Sometimes it’s nice that they happen in the league because it would be a lot worse if it happened in the coming months.”
Despite Limerick’s arduous league campaign, Hegarty firmly believes it can work to her advantage. Among their string of early losses was a nine-point trim from Cork, their first championship opponent at this Sunday’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“It doesn’t matter that it was Cork, we analyze every game on Tuesday night after every game. We’re going in and doing some video analysis with Seánie O’Donnell, our statistician,” explained Hegarty.
“Yes, we had some interesting post-match analysis this year in the league. Of course the league wasn’t great but I thought about it and within the league you go from game to game in a very tight time frame and don’t have too much time to think about it.
“It wasn’t great of course, we didn’t have the best league ever. But looking back, now that we’ve left the league and we’re looking forward to the championship, I obviously think it’s been a brilliant league for us because we’ve learned so much.
“You hear the quote a lot that you learn more from a loss than a win and the amount of lessons we’ve learned from the last two months or so – with obviously a few losses, there’s been a lot.
“I think we’re in a great place to be honest because we’ve learned so much. Sometimes it takes a few losses to get you back on track… so hopefully we’re in a good position going forward. It’s always weird at this time of year because you don’t really know where you are until the real stuff starts.”
The 6ft 5in powerhouse is physically primed for another major championship. “I feel great,” he gushed. “Last year I missed a good chunk of the league with a groin injury I picked up against Galway which kept me out for five or six weeks and I didn’t have too much training for the Championship, just two or three weeks under me Belt.
“I’ve had a full pre-season, we’ve been back since the first week of January and I haven’t missed a training session and I’m feeling really good – so I can’t wait to get started.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/hurling/i-was-embarrassed-over-stupid-red-card-limerick-star-gearoid-hegarty-41541657.html “I was embarrassed by the stupid red card” – Limerick star Gearóid Hegarty