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‘It’s reminiscent of Jonah Lomu in his pomp to watch Kyle Hayes take off with that power’

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Kyle Hayes of Limerick races past Dan McCormack of Tipperary on his way to score his side's second goal during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship final. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Kyle Hayes of Limerick races past Dan McCormack of Tipperary on his way to score his side's second goal during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship final. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Kyle Hayes of Limerick races past Dan McCormack of Tipperary on his way to score his side's second goal during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship final. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

It speaks volumes about Limerick’s Kyle Hayes that, after a half of hurling overflowing with superlative moments in yesterday’s stunning Munster final comeback win over Tipperary, it’s his goal on 53 minutes that most commentators agree is top of the tree.

For this writer, the run from deep in his own half evoked memories of those sporting moments that raise you from your seat and make you shake your head in disbelief at what you’ve just witnessed.

Think Owen Mulligan slaloming through Dublin’s defence in the 2005 All-Ireland quarter-final replay before hammering the ball past Stephen Cluxton.

Or for those of us of an older vintage, Ricky Villa’s waltz through the Man City defence in the 1981 FA Cup final replay to inspire Spurs to a famous win.

Needless to say, the goal was a major topic of discussion on the latest episode of The Throw-In, Independent.ie’s GAA podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy, with Colm Keys and Brendan Cummins both left open-mouthed by the audacity of the run. And for Keys, it was another of the great sportsmen that the move brought to mind.

“It's reminiscent of (Jonah) Lomu in his pomp to watch Kyle Hayes take off with that power,” the Irish Independent GAA scribe said.

“It was mindful of New Zealand in the 1995 World Cup. ‘How are we going to stop Lomu?’ They had to try and stop him at source and that's the way it is with Kyle Hayes. Because once he gets away, and once he gets in full flight, he is extremely difficult to to stop unless there's lots of bodies around him.

“He gets to 10 metres and 20 metres and he's picking up pace the whole time. He made those runs throughout last year's Championship, especially in the All-Ireland final and it forced a great save - a double-save if I recall from Stephen O'Keeffe - one of those surges he gives and he goes and he takes again.

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Jonah Lomu evades the diving tackle of Rob Andrew of England during the Rugby World Cup semi-final. Photo: Simon Bruty /Allsport

Jonah Lomu evades the diving tackle of Rob Andrew of England during the Rugby World Cup semi-final. Photo: Simon Bruty /Allsport

Jonah Lomu evades the diving tackle of Rob Andrew of England during the Rugby World Cup semi-final. Photo: Simon Bruty /Allsport

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“It's just phenomenal to see him in full flight like that, when you think that was around the ... I think it was 53rd minute maybe ... in that sweltering heat and he is able to travel comfortably more than 80 metres and keep picking up pace.

“He goes around Brendan Maher, he shakes off Dan McCormack and then he drops the shoulder finally just as he's about to do another jink - just as he did against Cork in the previous game - and finishes superbly. A lot of people would consider it as good a goal as they've ever seen. I would have to say that I would agree with that.”

For former Tipperary netminder Cummins, it can’t have been easy to watch his countymen get blown away after what was, lest we forget, a hugely impressive first half that saw them ten clear at half-time.

And indeed, had referee Paud O’Dwyer not been extremely lenient in only showing a yellow card for Aaron Gillane’s moment of madness after pulling on Cathal Barrett in the 37th minute, it could have been a famous Tipperary victory we’d be talking about rather than a contender for goal of the century.

But the two-time All-Ireland winner could only sit back and admire what he witnessed from a player surely destined to become one of the all-time greats.

“The other thing with that as well is that he bounced the ball twice off the ground, “Cummins added.

“Now, you'd expect somebody to break stride or to slow down for a split second when they do that bounce. But actually when he bounced it, it's like it gave him another little booster when he got it in his hand.

“Tipperary defenders then were just falling off him. In the first half Michael Breen tracked him, Tipperary supporters all around me thought 'we're back, look at this now, we've stopped Kyle Hayes.'

“But that's the key with him, he'll make five or six of those runs a game. And it's whether you have the engine to keep up with him or not. And there are very, very, very few out there (that do) to be fair.

“As much strength and conditioning as all the players have, he's just a complete freak of nature in the way that he has so much athleticism. He reminds me of Austin Gleeson when he burst onto the scene first.

“Remember Austin used to make those lung-busting runs and get faster and faster the closer he got to goal. This fellow is doing it consistently now for the last two years.

“It's just a testament to the way he looks after himself, a testament to the way that he does his conditioning, the speed training and all he does. He is just a beast of a man.”


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