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A file image of Kyle Hayes Evan Tracey/Inpho
kyle hayes

Limerick hurling boss asks judge not to jail All-Ireland player after his conviction for attack

Kiely, who is a school teacher, pleaded with Judge Dermot Sheehan to give four-time All-Star, Hayes, “a second chance”.

THE MANAGER OF the Limerick senior hurling team, John Kiely, asked a judge not to jail star Limerick hurler Kyle Hayes following his conviction for violent disorder at nightclub six years ago.

Kiely, who is a school teacher, pleaded with Judge Dermot Sheehan to give four-time All-winner, Hayes, “a second chance”.

“Every young man deserves a second chance,” he told the court. 

Kiely said he hoped Hayes will be available for selection when the Limerick hurling team chases its fifth successive All-Ireland title later this year. However he acknowledged that the player had “let down” his family, teammates, and his loyal young fans “who look up to him”.

Hayes, (25), had pleaded not guilty to one count of assault causing harm to self employed carpenter Cillian McCarthy outside the Icon on October 28, 2019, as well as two counts of violent disorder, inside and outside the club on the same night.

Following a two-week trial at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court, last December, a jury found Hayes not guilty of assault but guilty of both violent disorder offences.

Following a two-week trial last December, a jury found Hayes not guilty of assaulting Cillian McCarthy, (24), but guilty of both counts of violent disorder.

Hayes told gardai he could not recall “aggressively” approaching McCarthy in Smyths Bar on the night and told him to “stay the fuck away” from two young women he was chatting to in the bar, as alleged by the State.

Prosecuting counsel, John O’Sullivan BL, said when McCarthy tried to explain to Hayes that he was friends with the two females, Hayes got in his face and shouted, “do you know who the fuck I am… I’m getting sick of you, I’m going to dig the head off you”.

McCarthy said Hayes and others approached him later on the dancefloor of the Icon nightclub, located above the bar, and rained down punches on his head and face while his hands were held behind his head so he could not defend himself.

Hayes also denied allegations by McCarthy that he “kicked, stamped and punched” him while he lay on the ground after a mob including Hayes chased him outside of the club.

Two gardai gave evidence they saw Hayes kicking a man on the ground outside the nightclub, they detained Hayes but he broke free and ran away.

Gardai eventually detained Hayes a few streets away and he told them he ran because they were “roaring” at him and he did not know why.

O’Sullivan said it was clear from CCTV footage on the night that Hayes got involved in “gratuitous and unprovoked violence on the streets of Limerick”.

‘Second chance’

Addressing Judge Sheehan, who indicated he is considering a custodial sentence, Limerick hurling manager, John Kiely said: “I respectfully ask you, judge, to give him (Kyle Hayes) a second chance.”

Kiely said he was “not in the slightest” condoning what Hayes did on the night.

Kiely said he had viewed the CCTV footage of the dance floor violence and described Hayes’ behaviour as “very disappointing”.

However, Kiely told the court: “He (Kyle Hayes) is somebody I trust, he has a very strong work ethic, he’s a strong leader, he puts his team first and himself last, he is someone I could rely on even in the most difficult of circumstances”.

Kiely said Hayes telephoned him within 24 hours of the violence at the Icon and told him what happened.

The Limerick hurling boss said he believed that Hayes “accepts his very disappointing part in that night..he regrets it, he is very sorry”.

Kiely said Hayes had already “paid a heavy price” because of the media covering the court case, and said he believed that Hayes had “taken responsibility for his actions”.

Kiely however agreed under questioning from John O’Sullivan that he had not attended the two-week trial last December in which Hayes had denied all of the charges or having encountered McCarthy on the night.

The hurling manager said Hayes behaviour on the night was “not good enough” and did not meet the standards Kiely sets for his Limerick team.

Hayes barrister, senior counsel Brian McInerney played down the seriousness of the charges by suggesting they were at the “lower end” of the scale of offending – however judge Sheehan replied he “I disagree”.

The barrister said Hayes accepted the verdicts of the jury and reiterated the hurler had been acquitted of assault, a charge he had always denied.

Victim

Reading his victim impact statement to the court, McCarthy said he had been “easy going, hard working, enjoying life, loved playing sport, was ambitious” but the night in question, “all this changed”.

McCarthy said he was left “terrified” after the dance-floor attack and after he was escorted outside the club by bouncers nursing a “pounding” head and swollen eye.

He said he felt “alone and afraid” when set upon a second time outside the club by a group of males.

He said he has been left suffering persistent and severe headaches, blurred vision and underwent surgery for a fractured bone to his right eye.

The attacks had “a profound impact” on him and his family who are now in a constant state of fear whenever he leaves his home.

“My biggest fear has been returning to socialising in Limerick again for fear I would meet these people again.”

McCarthy said that afterwards he received hateful messages from people online in which “photos of me were circulated on social media with nasty comments”.

He said his “confidence, work and family” had all been negatively impacted.

Character references outlining Kyle Hayes’ charity work, and visits to schools and hospitals were provided to the court, including from high profile horse trainer Jim Bolger, as well as the managing director of the Kirby Engineering Group, where Hayes works, and others across the health and education sector.

Hayes, who the court heard faces the possibility of a maximum ten years in jail and or a fine or both, was remanded on bail for sentencing on March 20.

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