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Kyle Hayes green for go for Limerick after two-year suspended sentence

John Kiely already integrated Hayes back into the Limerick team prior to Wednesday’s sentencing following violent disorder conviction

The sentencing hearing of Kyle Hayes was only a couple of minutes old when there was an exchange about “compensation” between Judge Dermot Sheehan and Brian McInerney BL, counsel for the defence. The prospect of a custodial sentence immediately receded. Confirmation of that hunch took some time.

At 11.05am Judge Sheehan asked the accused to stand for sentencing remarks that lasted 31 minutes. The mercy of the court was delayed until the end. The Limerick hurler was given suspended sentences of two years for one count of violent disorder on October 28th, 2019 and 18 months for another offence on the same night; both sentences are to run concurrently and both were suspended.

Hayes was bound to the peace for two years on his own bond of €250 and ordered to pay €10,000 in compensation to the victim, Cillian McCarthy. A first instalment of €5,000 must be paid within four weeks, and the second by September 30th this year. The court was satisfied that Hayes had the means to meet these payments.

In answer to a query from the prosecution counsel, John O’Sullivan BL, Judge Sheehan confirmed that the award of compensation “was without prejudice to any civil proceedings” that may arise later.


In his summing up of the case, Judge Sheehan was unambiguous in his remarks about Hayes’ role in the violent disorder, both in the Icon nightclub in Limerick city, and outside on Upper Denmark Street.

“If it had not been for Kyle Hayes none of this would have happened,” said Judge Sheehan. He later said that “Kyle Hayes must have substantial culpability for both incidents of violent disorder.” He described the violence as “dangerous and significant.”

In his character reference at the first sentencing hearing in January, the Limerick manager John Kiely had spoken about Hayes’ “leadership.” Judge Sheehan referred to that in passing and said that “his leadership on this night was only used to harass a young man.”

He also concluded, however, that it would be of “no benefit to society” for Hayes to serve a custodial sentence. In mitigation, he said that Hayes was a young man at the time of the offence, had no previous convictions and was of “good character.”

“I believe he is remorseful,” Judge Sheehan said. “He has worked hard to become a respectable member of society.”

The significance of this outcome for the Limerick hurlers, and their quest for five All-Irelands in a row, is dwarfed by the seriousness of the case and its impact on the victim Cillian McCarthy. In purely hurling terms, though, his availability to Limerick is of potentially huge consequence.

Of the five All-Irelands that Limerick have already won under John Kiely, stretching back to 2018, Hayes is one of nine players to start every final – two in the forwards and three in the backs. His versatility and athleticism and power and virtuosity on the ball makes him one Limerick’s most valuable assets.

Hayes’ re-integration to the team has already begun. He was picked at wing-back for Limerick’s National League match against Dublin in Croke Park last month, his first appearance since last July’s All-Ireland final, and he played as if he had never been absent.

Given that the sentencing hearing was still hanging over him, Hayes’ selection was a surprise at the time. In his post-match press conference that night Kiely was asked if he had any hesitation in picking Hayes and his answer was brief and emphatic.

“Never” he said, before pausing for a couple of seconds. “Never hesitated in picking him.”

Hayes, though, wasn’t selected for Limerick’s next league match against Tipperary, which was moved to Supervalu Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork, and played on a Saturday evening. Under the terms of Hayes’ continuing bail he had to observe a 10.30pm curfew, which carried obvious complications for a 7.35pm throw-in.

Kiely wasn’t asked any questions about Hayes in his post-match press conference, but as he left the room he made it known that Hayes had picked up an injury in training. He didn’t elaborate on the nature of the injury, and it is unclear if he will be considered for Limerick’s league semi-final against Kilkenny on Saturday. Kiely is due to appear at a media launch for the Munster championship on Thursday.

Regardless of how the league plays out for Limerick, though, Hayes has more than a month to prepare for their opening Munster championship match against Clare in Cusack Park. On the evidence of his physical conditioning in Croke Park nearly four weeks ago, that is more than enough time.

Unlike for his other court appearances, when Hayes walked up the street, alone, past cameramen and photographers, he was dropped at the door of the courthouse yesterday, and picked up from the same spot, less than half an hour after the hearing ended. He held a phone to his ear and made no comment to reporters as he jumped into the front passenger seat. Fifty metres away the traffic lights turned red.

Then green.