IN EVERY pub in Ireland last Thursday was Arthur’s Day but in Clohessy’s it was John Hayes’ Day.
He sold a tractor load of his autobiography - The Bull: My Story - at the National Plouging Championships, at the book launch on Thursday night in Clohessy’s and he is to go on the Late Late Show this Friday night to promote it.
Current and former Munster and Irish players got right behind the former prop’s book launch, as they did when he packed down in the scrum.
Jerry Flannery, Marcus Horan, Paul O’Connell, Donncha O’Callaghan, Alan Quinlan and Anthony Foley all lent their support.
Even the fancy boys in the backs - Peter Stringer, Ronan O’Gara and Keith Earls - came out for the Cappamore legend. John’s former Munster and Ireland coach Declan Kidney was also in attendance.
In a tongue in cheek speech that had the crowds in stitches, Mick Galwey said ghostwriter, Tommy Conlon, must be a genius!
“To get a book out of John Hayes is a phenomenal achievement. We all thought he didn’t like doing interviews but little did we know he was taking down all these anecdotes!” said Mick.
The Kerryman’s first recollection of The Bull was as a “scrawny raw yoke” in the back pitch at Thomond. After he returned from New Zealand, Mick said John put on three and half stone and lost all his hair.
He revealed that the real reason John Hayes moved from the second row was because Noel “Buddha” Healy broke a finger trying to lift him!
On a serious note Mick said that John Hayes was irreplaceable.
“There are few players as honest and committed as John Hayes. He always gave 110 per cent to the team. Bruff, Shannon, Munster, Ireland and the Lions owe him a huge debt,” said Mick, who rounded off his speech by thanking John for extending his career by being able to lift him in the line-out.
When it came for John to speak, the notoriously modest Cappamore man said it was the bit of the night he had been dreading. He denied Mick Galwey’s allegation that he had been plotting a book all through his career.
“A book was suggested to me and I thought the story might be different. It was going to be true and Tommy Conlon really got it across the way I wanted. I hope people enjoy it,” said John, who thanked everyone who turned up, his family and his clubs.
He recalls his lengthy sporting career from playing underage hurling and football with Cappamore GAA club to lining out against the world’s top rugby players.
He played 105 times for Ireland, over 200 for Munster, won two Heineken Cups, four Triple Crowns and a Grand Slam.
Sunday Independent columnist, Tommy Conlon, said it was a pleasure to sit at the Hayes’ kitchen table in Cappamore and “like a lot of quiet fellows when he did speak, he spoke well and intelligently”.
“I hope we have a thoughtful and authentic memoir. I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it,” said Tommy.