Sportstalk Interview with Kilkenny 5-time All-Ireland winner David Herity
David Herity joined the Kilkenny Senior hurling panel in 2008.He has 5 All Ireland Senior medals. He is also the holder of 2 All Ireland U21 medals. Herity made his championship debut against Wexford in 2011. Bar the elite exception of hurlers like Tommy Walsh and Henry Shefflin, most Kilkenny players have to serve their time on the bench. Unfortunately for Herity, he was no different serving under PJ Ryan in his first few years and then later in his career he had to battle it out with current Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy.
At the start of the 2014 season, David had decided that it was going to be his last year with Kilkenny. He found himself sub goalkeeper to Eoin Murphy for the first championship game against Galway. That game ended in a draw. In the replay a week later, Eoin Murphy suffered an arm injury after ten minutes. David was called into action and even when Murphy returned from injury in time for the Leinster final, Cody decided to keep faith with Herity. He also started the All Ireland Semi-final against Limerick, which was played in atrocious conditions. Herity was replaced by Eoin Murphy for the All Ireland final. It was to be his last involvement with Kilkenny but as we know Brian Cody does not do sentiment.
Herity retired from inter-county hurling in 2014. This was the same time as many of the Kilkenny legends decided to retire – such as Tommy Walsh, JJ Delaney, Brian Hogan, Aidan Fogarty and of course Henry Shefflin. He is currently a coach with the Dublin Senior Camogie team.
David is still playing with his club Dunamaggin in Kilkenny, while working as a primary school teacher in North Dublin and he is also a main player on the Kilkenny football team. He was involved in a time when Kilkenny were at their absolute peak. However, he had tough competition with PJ Ryan and Eoin Murphy. It wouldn’t be any other way in Kilkenny.
We sat down with David for an exclusive interview. Hope you enjoy the read.
Was it ever an option for you to be a dual star in Kilkenny? Did it ever come up in conservation with Brian Cody?
It only came up in conversation once in 2009.In 2008 I had been captain of the footballers and after the league ended I was invited into the hurling panel. I played a Tommy Murphy championship game that summer while the hurlers had a week off, I probably shouldn’t have but I really wanted too. Then in 2009 the footballers were due to play Clare in a league game on a weekend where the hurlers were on a break. I was told that Brian would have to hassle in me togging out so I rang him. I asked and he replied,” David, I’ll never stand in the way of someone wanting to pursue a footballing career.” I read him loud and clear.
Did you feel nervous playing in goal in Croke Park?
I’d be more nervous before the game on the bus going to the hotel for the grub beforehand. Once I got onto the field I felt good. Once the game gets underway you’re nearly too distracted to be nervous.
How did you feel been left out of the All Ireland final team in 2014? Been a sub keeper must be a difficult place to be?
It’s a difficult one to explain when Brian told me I felt like getting sick as I was in bits, I went inside and rang the mother and told her to pass on the word. I knew it was going to be my last game as I’d decided in my head I was retiring at the start of the year so that was very hard to take. However, on the other hand I was relieved. Two weeks before the final I had torn a ligament in my hip and didn’t take part in any of the drills, just the games and being honest I wasn’t at the level you should be before a final. I could barely walk let alone run so in the end missing the final I could get over but playing injured and making a mistake that could have cost the team I wouldn’t have forgiven myself. Thankfully Brian saw I wasn’t right and made the switch and everything worked out for the best. It wasn’t the fairy-tale ending I’d hoped but that’s life. Being a sub goalie is an awful position as you are so close to playing yet a million miles away. The key is to stay focused as at any minute you can be in and you got to take your chance.
How tough were the Kilkenny training sessions?
Tough but brilliantly structured and timed and at no point did you feel like you were being flogged. You trained hard and put everything into a drill or game because you knew you’d get the required rest when the time came.
You are involved with Dublin Camogie now, how is that going? Do you see yourself as becoming a manager of a team in the future?
Loving the coaching role with Dublin. The management team are top notch, very organised and driven and the girls couldn’t be any more enthusiastic, willing to improve and to learn. I really hope we as a group get the rewards deserved for the huge effort everyone is putting in.
I definitely can see myself becoming a manager in the future. I’m very lucky to be working with Shane O’ Brien at present with Dublin and learning the ropes. It has become apparent fairly quickly just the amount of work managers put in, they don’t get half the credit they deserve with the work they put in organising everything.
Do you miss inter county hurling?
No. I only missed it when the lads were on the team holidays. Getting the 200 snap chats everyday while the lads were in Thailand was depressing but apart from that and maybe playing in Croker I don’t miss it at all.
What was it like going from playing with the best hurling team in Ireland, to playing football with Kilkenny? Do you think football in Kilkenny will ever take off?
In some ways they are a million miles apart, for example the years training, time put in off the field and pressure etc. In other ways they are identical, both groups want desperately to win, both have huge pride in wearing the Kilkenny jersey and thankfully both had very successful years last year. I’m equally as proud of last year’s British junior medal as I was with any all-Ireland with the hurlers.
It will take a long time for Kilkenny to have a senior championship team again. It will take a huge mind shift in the county for that to happen and I can’t see it happening in the next 10 years. The hope is to continue the work started in the previous few years at junior, make sure every year we are improving and building as a group, competing and winning all Ireland juniors and then someday hopefully the county will take that leap forward and enter a senior team again. DJ Carey is going to be the new Kilkenny Under 14 football manager, it will be interesting to see how that will go.
If you could go back to one hurling game in life which game would you go back to?
It would be the Ryan Cup final 2005(Fitzgibbon 2nd tier competition). I was captain, on frees and flying it up until the final. Nothing went right for the whole team and myself that day. It still gets me down thinking about it now.
You were on goal when Callan CBS won a Leinster Senior Colleges title against St Kieran’s College. Ye were massive under dogs that must have been one of your best victories to have been involved in?
That win will still go down as probably my best win. I was only 14 and Colin, my brother was captain so it was a great day for the family and school. The bunch of lads were a tight knit group thanks to the mentorship of Br Damien Brennan and he had us fearing no one. We felt like superstars after it. It’s hard to beat those kind of wins as underdogs.
Have you any regrets about your time with Kilkenny?
If I could go back, I would love to have relaxed and enjoyed it more and put myself under less pressure. I say that now but if I went back is probably do the same.
What advice would you give to a teenager who is hoping to play inter county hurling?
Give it your best shot and make the sacrifices required that’s all you can do. If it doesn’t work out then you can walk away with no regrets and your head held high.
How did you find working with the Marty Squad? What’s Marty like?
The radio work last year was an eye opener. On the first show or two I strolled up fairly green as to what was involved, no notes just what I knew but soon you realised that there was a lot more prep work that could be done in the week running up to the match, which in turn made the next few months much more interesting. I was delighted to have done it and met so many legends of the game before and after games.Marty is the true professional and a pure gent. We didn’t always get too much time to talk as he’s a busy man and the radio broadcast van used to be rocking outside with his fans wanting to meet him after the show. It became clear fairly quickly that Women want to be with him and men want to be him!
How important do you think gym work is?
It’s vital, if you want to get to the top of your game and be the best that you can be, you have to be doing gym work and even more importantly the right gym work. Too many young lads are lifting weights with poor or no guidance and this is having negative effects on their bodies in later years. I can see in the next ten years at club and inter county teams as young as 10 and under working on gym work to help their players in future years. The teams that do this a do it properly will have greatest success.
Has the enjoyment gone out of hurling? Are club teams becoming too serious too?
I think the enjoyment has gone somewhat. The club scene is as professional as the county scene was in the mid to late noughties and it’s catching up quickly, between dieticians, strength and conditioning, stats, training’s, recovery repeat etc. I think the management side is getting more and more professional but the commitment just isn’t there anymore from a generation of players (the Celtic tiger generation). Young lads just aren’t as pushed to play as maybe lads once were and so instead of players pushing the club forward managers are trying to force it.
If you could play with any team in any sport, who would you play for?
Real Madrid, there’s just something about that team. You can have the good weather, skill and girlfriends!
Who is the best hurler you ever played with?
I have to go with Noel Hickey. I know that might sound biased as he’s a club mate but since a young lad right to this day he still plays with as much intensity mixed with skill and strength. He has a constant will to win, raw power and to still be a sound man behind it all. I always felt safe as houses behind him.
Which goal keeper did you look up to when you were younger?
Niall Chippy McCormack from my club, small but reflexes of a cat. On an Inter county level definitely Joe Quaid of Limerick. All I ever wanted was to pull off a save like he could. I met him recently, I was still too shy to tell him he was my idol.
What’s the feeling like after winning an All-Ireland? Does it change after winning a few?
The only way things change is if you are playing or a sub. Needless to say playing is always better but it’s just an unreal satisfying feeling knowing that all the hard work put in over the year together as a group and on your own away from everyone has yielded the biggest reward.
Do you get bored playing in goal? You had a few runs out the field, do you enjoy playing out the field?
It’s been a long time since I’ve played outfield in hurling. I would actually like to get out and try it for a year as I love playing outfield in football. Ye have got me thinking now, watch this space!
Will Dunnamaggin be back up Senior anytime soon?
We are definitely good enough to beat any team in intermediate but anyone who knows the Kilkenny intermediate grade knows that it takes a very good team to string 3/4 championship games together to go up. That’s the biggest battle for us, consistency.