Gearoid Hegarty says that the rumours which circulated about him earlier in 2023 had more of an impact on his family than they did on him.
The Limerick hurler says that his mother and his grand-mother, in particular, didn’t take the baseless and unfounded speculation very well.
The rumour mill had it after Limerick’s Munster championship loss to Clare that the 2020 Hurler of the Year had left the Limerick panel.
The 29-year-old had endured a tough start to the year when he was red carded in the first round against Waterford before losing his starting place for that game against Clare but three months on from Limerick’s All-Ireland final win over Kilkenny, Hegarty is keen to stress that a tough start was all it was.
He regained his place later on in the Munster championship and never relinquished it. He doesn’t know where the rumour came from or how it started, but he does issue a health warning to those who believe everything they read on social media.
“First thing, there was absolutely nothing to it,” he says emphatically in his role as a Zambrero ambassador.
“There was no truth to any of the rumours. I’m not really sure what they all were but the one I heard – that I had left the panel – never happened.
“The boys got a great kick out of it, I had to hear about it for the next four, five sessions. The first session back after the so-called rumour broke, the boys were slagging, ‘Jesus, I didn’t think I’d see you here this morning.”
“Darragh O’Donovan was giving me an awful ear’s abuse.
“Look, it’s the world were living in at the minute, isn’t it? Social media, people don’t fact-check anything anymore nowadays.
“Everything they see, they believe, which is a shame in itself but you just have to try and deal with it. It didn’t necessarily affect me too much but the thing that was difficult was everybody I met wanted to talk to me about it,” he added.
The half forward says that while he can let his hurling do the talking, it’s difficult for his parents and relatives to hear the likes.
“I don’t think it affected me too much but it affected my family a lot.
“My mother and my grandmother didn’t take it well at all and they were quite upset with the rumours and I suppose it’s just important for people to be aware that it’s not just the player in front of you like.
“I’m a young man, I’m only 29, I have to go to work and deal with these things. It’s not easy, it’s not easy. I try to brush it off, under the carpet.”
Hegarty was the only one of Limerick’s starting XV who wasn’t nominated for an All-Star this year but he says he doesn’t deserve an All-Star. That being said, he is happy with how he ended the year, having scored 0-2 in the All-Ireland final, and he says he may use the omission as fuel next year.
“I’m a big fan of basketball and I’m sure you’ve all watched The Last Dance documentary and there’s always that meme of Michael Jordan floating about that he took it personally for whatever was going on at the time.
“I don’t take it personally, I don’t think I deserved an All Star. I didn’t expect to get an All Star so not getting a nomination, it is what it is.
“I’d be lying if I said to you that… you want to be in the running for these things, I’m an extremely competitive person.
“I like to win no matter what I’m involved in. Anyone who plays golf with me knows that no matter if we’re going out playing a four ball on a Wednesday evening with 20 quid on the line, I want to win it as much as I want to win anything so you want to be in the running for all these things but, look, I don’t necessarily disagree with it.
“But look, going forward, you know, you try and use everything in your power to keep you on edge and to keep you trying to improve yourself so we’ll see.
“I haven’t thought too much – I haven’t thought about next year at all to be honest because it’s so important at this time of year to switch off and rest and relax before you start into next year but we’ll see, you don’t know, you don’t know.
“I wasn’t at my brilliant best this year,” Hegarty added.
“I was quite satisfied with how the year finished, maybe the last three or four games from the Cork game on. But early on in the year in the early stages of the Munster championship, I wasn’t at my best. Reflecting on it maybe I don’t know, maybe subconsciously I put too much pressure on myself to replicate the performance of the All-Ireland final last year and constantly looking back at that game and comparing with the game that I had played. Once I relaxed earlier in the year, I started to get into my flow again.”
He says that, during those struggles, Limerick’s sports psychologist Caroline Currid was a great help to him and he agrees she’ll be a huge loss in the 2024 season.
“I always kind of slagged Caroline that a lot of the time you go to her is when you are not at your best,” says Hegarty.
“She was like a problem solver for you, you don’t neccessarily need to go to Caroline when you are absolutely flying on the field when everything is going great for you. She is brilliant when maybe you are lacking a bit of confidence or lacking a bit of form, she is always trying to get you back on the straight and narrow.”
“I’d be lying if I said she isn’t a loss.
“She has been so integral to our team over the last few years. I always say we wouldn’t be where we are today without her. For sure she is a loss. But it’s understandable, she has a young family, she has a busy life outside Limerick GAA as well.
“She has a lot going on. Obviously she is living up the country, she is not close to us. She is doing a lot of travelling and all good things come to an end unfortunately. we are forever grateful for what she did for us a a squad. We can only thank her for what she has done. It’s a shame but that is life.”
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