Tipperary's Kieran Bergin: 'I chased the good life and I probably got it all out of my system'
"I WOULD have been a big messer in America, enjoyed the good life and going out and the whole social scene in the bars," recalls Tipperary's Kieran Bergin of his less-than-orthodox preamble to an inter-county career that began in 2013 at the age of 27 and after a good seven years of the sort of behaviour he smiles now whilst recalling.
"I would never have really given up drink when you don't have anything to give up for," he shrugs.
"When I came home I became more focused, went to college.
"Maybe I was just maturing but I changed. I went from drinking pretty much every weekend and socialising to drinking maybe seven or eight times a year.
"It was a massive transformation for me and I never thought it would happen."
Bergin adds, with the benefit of a first major medal in his pocket from this year's Munster Championship: "Look, the cards have been dealt to me and I'm just happy to be here.
"I chased the good life and I probably got it all out of my system.
"When I look back at the seven years, there is no one stand-out night that makes me say, 'Wow, I remember that night down in San Francisco when we were singing in the street'.
"But you're going to remember every single minute of an All-Ireland final if you win it. The Munster final was surreal.
"You're thinking 'this will stand in my mind forever?', whereas the brain cells will just be killed from a night out."
He is established now in a team on a mission and not-at-all sated by their first Munster title in three years and facing the twin tasks of beating Galway and then Kilkenny or ending the season as failures in their own eyes.
"We had a lot of hurt from last year's championship.
"We were the hard luck story," Bergin admits, "and nobody wants to be the hard luck story.
"There was a lot of pressure coming into it and a lot of expected from the hurlers. I suppose we don't always deliver.
"The last 10 or 15 years, we don't have as much Liam MacCarthys won as we should have.
"There was always added pressure with that," Bergin concludes, "and all you can do is cope with it."