Hannon’s resurgence helps Kiely’s heroes end All-Ireland famine

Limerick’s 45-year wait for an All-Ireland hurling title ended last Sunday after a one-point victory over Galway at Croke Park.

Both players and supporters have been waiting an age for that day to arrive and the celebrations have been hard earned and are well deserved.

The winning margin of a solitary point didn’t reflect the true nature of Limerick’s performance as they dominated large periods of the game against a Galway side that was never allowed to get going.

Almost singlehandedly, Joe Canning nearly brought Galway back into the game late on but John Kiely’s heroes were not to be denied.

There are countless reasons why this team was successful in 2018 with the fundraising night of boxing, the league wins against Galway and Offaly among those highlighted by players and management in the lead up to and after the All-Ireland Final win.

One moment that added to Limerick’s chances was Kiely’s appointment of Declan Hannon as team captain following James Ryans’ retirement following the end of the 2017 season.

Hannon has long been one of Limerick’s key players but has taken his performances to a new level this year.

A huge talking point before Sunday’s final was the Hannon v Canning battle and it was the Adare man who came out on top of their duals.

Two outstanding points in the opening 35 minutes were the cherry on top and Canning only came into the game when he moved away from centre forward.

When Canning was moved out of Hannon’s zone, the limerick captain excelled even further. His pin point delivery into Limerick’s forward division yielded several scores.

Kyle Hayes was deservedly named man of the match following the game but Hannon must have run him very close.

Hannon has been a much maligned figure in some circles since he broke onto the scene as an 18-year-old in 2011 but has now put any lingering doubts of his standing with his county to bed.

“A dream come true,” was how Hannon described Sunday’s victory and also paid tribute to the players and management of the past after the game, calling them “an inspiration.”

Graeme Mulcahy was another that was written off in certain quarters ahead of this campaign but his season tally of 3-16 from play was a major factor in Limerick’s success.

One of the major challenges that lies ahead for this team is to replicate this season’s accomplishments. Good team’s win one title and great teams win multiple ones.

When the dust settles in a couple of months, John Kiely and his brain trust will sit down to plan 2019 but significant challenges await.

Limerick will be in Division 1A of the Allianz Hurling League next year and will face off against a more than likely rejuvenated Tipperary, Waterford and Cork and Clare teams that will no doubt be aiming to go a step further.

All that talk is for down the road but for now it’s time to bask in a historic year for Limerick hurling. All-Ireland’s don’t come along every year. Not yet anyway.

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