By Cóilín Duffy
Limerick's Kyle Hayes picked up the RTÉ Man of the Match Award last night, after the Shannonsiders were crowned All-Ireland Senior Hurling Champions for the first time since 1973 at Croke Park yesterday afternoon.
The Kildimo-Pallaskenry clubman received the Galway Crystal accolade live on RTÉ's 'The Sunday Game' from GAA President John Horan at their broadcast of the winners banquet at the Citywest Hotel in Saggart.
Hayes was swamped by enthusiastic Limerick supporters as he went up to received the award.
"There was a good few frontal tackles going on, and slaps on the back! ," he joked.
"It's great, it's nice to be here. Obviously it's a great year for Limerick and we are grateful to be here and thankful for all the crowd.
"We are just kind of the lucky few, who have finally made the final step to get over the line."
The 20-year-old was shortlisted for the award alongside Galway's Joe Canning and fellow Limerick man Declan Hannon.
On behalf of the judging panel Brendan Cummins outlined the decision behind choosing the shortlisted players.
"Joe scored 1-10 today - three points from play and there was real leadership from him for Galway when they needed it.
"Our second nominee was Kyle Hayes at centre-forward, who scored four points and done trojan work - an athlete, and great awareness for such a young man. He was a real driving force today.
"Declan Hannon at centre-back scored two points. It seems a little bit unusual with the nominees to have a centre-forward and centre-back on opposite teams who were marking each other, but Joe was floating about the place.
"Hannon whenever he got on the ball, he certainly influenced the game."
Also seven Limerick players were chosen on The Sunday Game Hurling Team of the Year.
Sean Finn, Richie English, Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey and Graeme Mulcahy were named on the selection by the RTÉ panel.
The team also included Daithi Burke, Padraic Mannion and Joe Canning from beaten finalists Galway, and Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy.
Meanwhile, The Sunday Game panel unanimously chose Galway's Padraic Mannion as their 'Hurler of the Year'.
Celebrations are set to continue long into the night at the team hotel, and are already in full swing in the Treaty County, with a full house expected at Limerick's Gaelic Grounds tomorrow evening for the official homecoming celebrations.
Tickets are available free of charge for the event on eventbrite.ie, with stand and pitch tickets snapped up with minutes of becoming available earlier at 6pm.
Organised by Limerick City and County Council and Limerick GAA, a massive celebration has been planned which includes award-winning group Beoga; The Blizzards and DJ Mark McCabe.
Widespread traffic restrictions will be in place around the Gaelic Grounds.