Limerick forward Gearóid Hegarty said he was embarrassed by his dismissal during the league defeat to Galway earlier this year, describing his actions as "stupid".

The 2020 Hurler of the Year was dismissed by referee Fergal Horgan in the February defeat to the Tribesmen for retaliating against Joseph Cooney.

From there on in, it was Galway who assumed control of the lively contest, but the red card gave those who have questioned Limerick's discipline over the last couple of seasons further ammunition.

Last year Seamus Flanagan and Peter Casey saw red during the championship, while Aaron Gillane and Flanagan were fortunate to escape dismissals in the Munster final victory over Tipperary.

Hegarty said that while he and his team-mates play on the edge like most successful teams, he admitted the first red card of his inter-county career was reckless and should have been avoided.

"It was stupid. I was embarrassed," he said. "It’s a horrible feeling. I’ve never gotten a straight red before (with Limerick).

"We were in the game at the time and I felt like I was hurling really well at the time and then to be sent off around 45 minutes and have to watch the lads for the last 25 minutes knowing you’re after leaving your team-mates down, knowing you’re after leaving down everyone that’s after coming in to watch the game, my family were there watching it and it’s just awkward.

"You nearly don’t even want to go home and look them in the eye after doing something so stupid."

Limerick’s bid for three-in-a-row All-Ireland titles begins this weekend against Cork in a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final.

Many have pegged the Leesiders and league champions Waterford as the Treaty men’s main challengers, and the fixture list has pitted them as Limerick’s opening opponents over an intriguing first week of the Munster championship.

Gearóid Hegarty at the launch of Bord Gáis Energy's The Gift of the GAAB campaign at Croke Park

Limerick’s own league form was underwhelming – their only win came in the final outing against Offaly – but the St Patrick’s man sees the glass half full from the early season fare, insisting the defending champions are in a "great place" heading into the championship.

"It obviously wasn’t great - we didn’t have the best League - but now looking back on it now that we’re gone from the league and looking forward to the championship, I think it was a brilliant league for us because we learned so much.

"I think we’re in a great place to be honest with you because we have learned so much.

"Sometimes you do need a couple of losses to get back on the straight and narrow and we’ve learned a lot from the League so hopefully we’re in a good position going forward.

"It’s always strange at this time of the year because you don’t really know where you are until the real stuff kicks off."

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