Aaron Gillane discusses leaders Cian Lynch & Declan Hannon and “massive achievement” of All-Ireland triumph

On Sunday they both claimed a fifth senior All-Ireland medal but their journey to hurling stardom took differing lengths.

The “two only same age fellas” in Patrickswell as they affectionally refer to each other, Aaron Gillane’s relationship with Cian Lynch has been a well documented one.

Both born in the parish in 1996, their rise through the ranks has been a similar one but not identical. On Sunday they both claimed a fifth senior All-Ireland medal but their journey to hurling stardom took differing lengths.

Lynch was on the minor side at just fifteen with Gillane arriving onto the side two years later with his club mate as captain. Aaron’s gametime was limited and he didn’t feature in that year’s final.

Gillane was drafted into the U21s set up the following year where Lynch was one of the star men in delivering the county a first All-Ireland of any description in 13 years.

2016 saw Patrickswell win a first county title in over a decade and while Lynch was a leading light, Gillane was the sides top scorer. He carried that baton into the next Spring with Mary I, helping Lynch and co retain their title. They were named on opposite wings as the U21s reclaimed their All-Ireland title that year with both among the XV as Limerick ended a 45-year wait for an All-Ireland title.

Lynch was named Hurler of the Year on that occasion and followed suit in 2021, etching his name into the history books. But this year belonged to Gillane, with his club mate on the sidelines for much of the Munster campaign, the inside forward was unmarketable and is deservedly the front runner to become the third successive man from Patrickswell to win the Hurler of the Year award.

Still, in the wake of the game, Gillane said little of his own incredible campaign, instead opting to praise his club mate and friend.

“He is a born leader. I’d trust Cian with my life. Any final we have ever been involved in, be it with Mary I or the club or anything, he is always the man that is coming out on top. He is the man for the big day. He really shows that.

“He’d be taking the ball with four or five lads hanging off him and even just bringing someone into play with the click of his fingers. It is just a testament to Cian and the player he is. Just all the hard work he has put in over the last couple of months has got him to where he is today.”

2018 PwC All-Star Awards, Convention Centre, Dublin 2/11/2018 Limerick’s Aaron Gillane with Cian Lynch Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Gillane also singled out the team captain Declan Hannon for his role on the day despite not being able to take to the field.

Ruled out of the biggest game of the year, Hannon was one of the key voices at the half when Limerick were struggling to get to grips with the Cats.

“I honestly can’t remember what he was saying, but the one thing that sticks out is the emotion and how genuine he was when he was talking and how much he really wanted to help the team on the day when he couldn’t help on the field.

“Similar to Cian, an unbelievable person and an unbelievable leader. When fellas like that are talking, you are going to want to listen to them and you are going to want to try and do something to help them and given them a pick up.”

It is an incredible achievement for this group of players to take their tally to five All-Ireland titles, with many backing them to become the first ever side to win a fifth on the trot.

For Gillane, it is about appreciating what has just been achieved.

“It is really kicking in this morning. Last night people were asking us, how do you feel, but sure last night you are just wrecked and jaded. The emotion of everything does kinda take its toll on you. When you wake up this morning, it is an unbelievable feeling. It is kicking in how much of a massive achievement it is, like. You have to acknowledge that, as well. We’re over the moon.”

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The club championship will kick off in less than a fortnight’s time and Gillane will be key to Patrickswell’s aspirations if they are to win back the title they last won in 2019.

With three Hurler of the Year winners at their disposal, the ‘Well will be a match for anybody.

GAA coverage on Sporting Limerick is brought to you in association with Noels Menswear, shop online here or visit in Dooradoyle, Limerick City or Newcastle West.

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