Hickey admits to some Limerick 'soul-searching'
Limerick defender Seamus Hickey has acknowledged that a series of below-par performances from him over the last two seasons have left him with a lot of "soul-searching" to do.
Hickey is positive about the appointment of new manager John Kiely, a selector with John Allen when the Treaty men won the Munster title in 2013 and manager of the 2015 All-Ireland U-21 winning team.
But he knows he must start to relax more and enjoy the game rather than forcing it too much, as he feels he has been.
"In the last two years especially, personally I did an awful lot of soul-searching," he acknowledged. "You look back over it and it's never a nice place to be when you feel like you haven't played to your potential. Unfortunately, that was the reality for me for the last two years.
"I go into every year energetic and buzzing about the place.
"But I suppose I have to maybe just relax a bit more and enjoy it for what it is. Enjoy playing inter-county hurling, enjoy the lads around me. Maybe sometimes you can try too hard."
Hickey feels there can be "no guarantees" for him as a Limerick hurler in the future but that too is something he is happy to take on. "If Limerick manage to win an All-Ireland and I play a minute, that would be enough," he said. "That's what it has to be about.
"Motivation has to be the big prize all the time. You have to have that mentality to just be that link in the chain that the whole group around you needs you to be. I hope it happens.
"It's an interesting time. Personally, at this time of year I have some time off and time to think about it, and I think a lot about hurling and I think a lot about the game," added the current GPA chairman.
"It's this time of the year that I reflect on what has been and it's tough, then, to be at the end of a disappointing year personally for me."
Hickey still feels that big breakthrough for Limerick isn't far away and that he has "felt it for the last couple of years".
"The really good thing about the last couple of years is that the last three U-21 All-Ireland winners have been Clare, Limerick and Waterford," he pointed out.
"We're the ones trying to drive a new challenge, a fresh challenge, and Waterford very, very nearly broke through that this year."
Kiely's appointment is a "sweet spot" according to Hickey.
"The seniors who were with him when he was involved with John Allen in 2013 have such a high opinion of him that it's probably a sweet spot," said the Murroe-Boher man.
"He has a good mixture in the dressing-room of young and able and old and hanging in there! I think it's a good place for him to be and it's one of the reasons why you'd be positive at this time of the year."