AFTER a summer of more ups than downs in his last year at U20, dual star Brian Hayes is poised for another hectic few months with St Finbarr’s.
He will be a central figure in both football and hurling, starting this afternoon with the opening game against Ballincollig in the football championship at Páirc Uí Rinn at 2pm.
And for six of the next seven weeks, there’s going to be no let-up because it’s hurling then against newcomers Charleville and familiar rivals Erin’s Own.
A well-earned break leads into football against Ilen Rovers, hurling against defending champions Blackrock, before wrapping up the football schedule against Clonakilty.
And that’s not taking into account the strong possibility of reaching the knock-out phase in both codes, too.
Hayes, however, like all youngsters, is relishing the challenges. “We’re a prestige dual club and the advice is to play both for as long as you can, unless you can’t obviously,” he said during the week.
“We’ve a few this year now who are not playing both due to injuries and work, though we still have a good few who are.
“We’ve had a good summer of training and we’ve won most of our games. There’s a nice blend of youth and experience, so, hopefully, we will be able to drive on, starting today.”
Hayes tuned into last weekend’s delayed football final and wondered what if? The Barr’s again showed their consistency by reaching the semi-finals only to lose, cruelly, on penalties.
“It was hard to take, but it’s a long time ago now and we’ve moved on.
“While it’s great to be involved at the business end, you can’t look too far ahead either. You must take it game by game.
“There are three good teams in the group so you can’t take anything for granted in terms of qualifying for semi-finals or finals.”
A county medal would enrich his glorious collection of an All-Ireland U20 hurling medal and two Munster medals from a memorable 2021 season.
Hayes and club hurling colleague Jack Cahalane dabbled in both and it wasn’t easy. “It was difficult juggling both, no denying that. It was OK in terms of training, but it was definitely tough on the body when it came to the matches.
“When the campaigns were full flow, it was more about minding ourselves than anything else and obviously Jack was in the same situation.
We’d be around the place alright and we had two good strength and conditioning coaches in Adam McCarthy and Con Burns, who managed us well.
“We didn’t do much in between games and anyway there would have been only five days between them so that looked after itself really.
“The time I felt it most was when we played the Munster hurling semi-final two days before the Munster football final and that was hard.
“It was a Tuesday and a Thursday and I had to come off in the last 15 minutes of the football final against Tipperary because it was tiring and tough on the legs.
“Maybe if the fixtures had been the other way round it mightn’t have been as challenging because there’s more running in football, especially playing midfield. The weather at the time was very warm as well and that made it even more difficult.”
The Cork pair were denied an opportunity of playing in the All-Ireland football final after eventual champions Offaly proved too strong in the semi-final. “There was a sour taste at the way the football ended, but it was great to get a Munster medal at the same time. And to captain the team as well wasn’t a bad way to go either.”
Hayes admitted a dual mandate at senior inter-county level is a non-runner. “I don’t think it’s possible in the way the games are gone now.
“We’ll see how we get on with the club first and if the opportunities arrive, hopefully, I’ll have to make a decision.
“I’ve no preference either way, genuinely. I’d have a 50-50 split between the two and it’s something I’ve always had since I was 15 or 16.
“And it’s the same with the Barr’s, I wouldn’t really have a preference. I’ll always play both,” Hayes concluded.
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