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Kiely defends decision to be Hayes character witness

Limerick hurling manager John Kiely has defended his decision to provide a character witness to Kyle Hayes, saying his presence at Limerick Circuit Court was a show of support rather than a signal he condoned his actions.

On Wednesday, Hayes was given a two-year suspended prison sentence after being convicted last December of two counts of violent disorder.

The 25-year-old was also ordered to pay €10,000 in compensation to a man who suffered serious facial injuries during incidents inside and outside a Limerick nightclub in 2019.

The Treaty boss acted as a character witness for Hayes at his first sentencing hearing in January.

Kiely refused to speak to RTÉ on Thursday, as he said he objected to coverage of Hayes’ trial, however he did speak to journalists at the launch of the Munster Championship in Cahir.

“I think my presence, I wouldn’t have gone there unless I wanted to show him that I was there to support him but also that it doesn’t mean I’m condoning what happened at all, quite the contrary. Listen, it’s over, it has been dealt with by the courts, we move on,” said the five-time All-Ireland winning manager.

“I’m glad that it has come to an end. Very much looking towards the future now. I know Kyle is looking towards the future as well and pushing on. That’s it, really. Just glad that it has come to a conclusion.”

Kiely said the case has been difficult for everyone.

“Listen, none of this is easy for anybody and you’d rather not be in that situation. These challenges are obviously there for everybody involved.

“But ultimately it’s down to the individuals who are directly involved. For all their sakes, I’m sure they’re glad that this part of it has come to a close.”

Hayes played in an Allianz Hurling League match against Dublin last month, however he is not available for Saturday’s semi-final against Kilkenny as he is recovering from an ankle injury.

“Kyle has trained really well over the last number of months. He has a bit of an ankle injury at the moment. He’s very much enjoying his hurling in the last couple of months but obviously there’s a challenge there when you pick up injuries in terms of trying to get back to a position where you’re finding improvements.”

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