Not just a big man, Gearoid Hegarty is one of the game's most skilful magicians 2 months ago

Not just a big man, Gearoid Hegarty is one of the game's most skilful magicians

As a big, burly bulwark, Gearoid Hegarty deceives you.

Pushing on 6 ft 5 with shoulders the width of mart gates, it'd be very to bracket him as a powerhouse, a physical specimen who throws his weight around and gets in the way.

He'll give you nothing easy alright, and it's a long way to go around him but time and time again, the imperious St Patrick's club man shows us that there's so much more to his game than just physicality.

There are the hands, first of all, the gifted hands which are responsible for some of the deftest touches in the game. There's the striking, he strikes the ball miles into the distance with about as much effort as it takes Dublin to win Leinster. Then there's the all-round grace, Hegarty has such a clever hurling brain that it's only on the very rare occasion that he needs to sprint, just glides instead.

They should call him the big easy.

In Sunday's Munster Championship semi-final, Limerick got away from Clare with an emphatic second half showing and both the calmness and the composure of their class number 10 inspired the green jerseys around him.

Advertisement

"They call them quarters in baseball and in the NFL, well Limerick's Championship men really stood up in the third quarter," said Anthony Daly afterwards on RTร‰.

There's no prizes for guessing who Dalo was talking about with the outstanding Hegarty sending out a message to the rest of Ireland. In the first half, there were two marvellously dispatched scores but his play was best summed up by an assist for Peter Casey, when the big man sauntered past two Clare challenges before throwing an under-hand flick over to his man. It was total hurling, it was Hegarty at his brilliant best.

In the second half, it only got easier as Clare legs began to tire and John Kiely has no better man to make hay in the green grass than his half forward, who flicked over scores with the minimal of fuss. Alongside Hegarty, the roving Kyle Hayes and the industrious Cian Lynch kept the momentum on Limerick's side while Gillane and Mulcahy always looked dangerous inside.

For Clare, we have at this stage ran out of superlatives to describe Tony Kelly but he was at his free-flowing best out there, ending his day with 0-17 (0-7 from play) to his name. It was too much of a one-man show for the Banner though as despite some influential contributions from Stephen O'Halloran and Shane O'Donnell, Limerick were on top elsewhere.

In this mood, they'll be hard stopped, in this mood, Gearoid Hegarty is one of the game's best.