“It reminded me of 2013, the colour was amazing” | Declan Hannon on incredible Gaelic Grounds Munster final

Limerick created history, as they became the first side to win five Munster titles in a row, with the fifth hard earned.

When the final whistle went in the TUS Gaelic Grounds on June 11, the pitch was engulfed in a sea of green, as players and fans rejoiced. Limerick created history, as they became the first side from the county to win five Munster titles in a row, with the fifth arguably the hardest earned.

The Shannonsiders have been lucky enough to win the Munster championship title on home soil a number of times, taking that tally to three in a decade, winning the first of their five in a row on the Ennis Road in 2019, defeating Tipperary in the final.

Captain Declan Hannon is one of only four members of the current panel who was involved in 2013, when Limerick defeated Cork at the same venue, to win their first Munster title in 17 years. The Adare man is amazed at the support he and his teammates have received over the years, and said it is “special to be a part of it”.

“It was an unbelievable occasion. Getting to a Munster final is fantastic, but having it in Limerick was amazing. It reminded me of 2013, looking down on the pitch after the match. Thousands and thousands of green jerseys, it’s fantastic, I’m delighted people aren’t getting tired of going to the matches, we’re definitely not getting tired of it. The colour was amazing, I’d never seen anything like it, special to be a part of it.”

11 June 2023; Limerick captain Declan Hannon lifts the Mick Mackey Cup after during the Munster GAA Hurling Championship Final match between Clare and Limerick at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Winning five in a row is a fantastic achievement for an incredible group of players, who had their fair share of critics. The hunger of the squad was questioned, with many criticising their start to the championship campaign.

However, valiant wins over Cork and Clare, proved those doubts wrong, and this outstanding side marches on to yet another All-Ireland semi-final.

Taking a moment to look back on five Munster titles in a row, as well as three successive All-Ireland’s John Kiely’s men have been on an incredible journey, with Hannon leading the charge. The centre-back says it’s an amazing time, and that the players are just trying to “enjoy it.”

“When you’re a young fella you’re looking at those Munster championship games and say ‘I’d love to be there,’ it is a privilege. Special occasions, we’re trying to enjoy it, trying to have fun with it as well and enjoy the journey we’re on.”

“The boys are a driven group of people and want to be the best every time they go training, every time they’re in the gym and every time they are on the pitch. Hunger is never an issue, if you’re lacking a bit of hunger you’re not in the right place, hunger is not an issue with this group thank god.”

21 May 2023; Declan Hannon of Limerick scores a point under pressure from Séamus Kennedy of Tipperary during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 4 match between Tipperary and Limerick at FBD Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Kiely has had to deal with a number of injuries to his side throughout the Munster campaign, with Sean Finn picking up a long-term ACL injury, while star player Cian Lynch has struggled for consistent fitness.

Captain Hannon is the latest to join the casualties list, the Adare man picking up a knee injury of his own during his side’s Munster final triumph. The timeframe on his injury is uncertain but he is certain to miss the semi-final.Still, the three-time centre back is hopeful of a return for any potential final.

While Croke Park will come too soon for Hannon in less than three weeks time, the break his side received by winning Munster has allowed an opportunity for players such as Lynch to get themselves ready for the huge game.

Limerick played an exhausting Munster championship, and the extended four week break could well prove vital in rejuvenating what is sure to be a shattered side.

“We had five games in Munster and every single one of them went down to the wire, these are 75 minute games that lads are giving everything they have, and a lot of games in a short space of time. It’s definitely a bonus winning the Munster final, have the extra couple of weeks to get lads right, and train hard then in the lead up. It’s been beneficial to us the last few years.”

Hannon has been an influential figure for Limerick over their period of dominance, and there is no doubt his absence will be missed. Yet, Kiely and co have had to deal with the absence of key men already this year and will have a plan in place for whoever comes through this Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final.

Should they march on to a fifth final in six years, Hannon may just well be in tow for that chance at another piece of history.

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