Declan Hannon was in attendance at the unveiling of eir as a new official sponsor of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship.
For three seasons, no one has been able to best Limerick in the All-Ireland senior hurling championship. Kilkenny in July of 2019 were the last team to get a win against the Shannonsiders with the three-in-a-row completed against the same side earlier this summer.
In 2020, Limerick were all-conquering, winning each of their competitive games in capturing League, Munster and All-Ireland honours. The league the following year gave others hope but come championship, Limerick were untouchable with an average winning margin of ten points in their four clashes. The season just gone saw Clare, Galway and Kilkenny come close but none were able to gain the upper hand as their undefeated streak continues.
Declan Hannon became the first captain to lift the Liam MacCarthy four times with each success coming in different circumstances. In 2018, the first year of the round robin, Limerick came from nowhere to claim national honours. 2020 was won behind closed doors while limited spectators were on hand to witness the 2021 success. Last year, the crowds returned, as did the round robin with Limerick achieving the three-in-a-row by beating all before them.
And the Adare native enjoys the ‘hectic” nature of the round-robin system which doesn’t allow for any “excuses.”
“It’s hectic but I think it’s brilliant. I love the round-robin, you saw this year the crowds that were at the game, you know the majority of the games that we played were close to sell-outs I think, which is fantastic that’s what we want to do, that’s why we play the game to play these matches so I much prefer the round-robin I think it’s really really good.
“You have no excuse you’re either performing well enough to win the games and look it gives you a bit of a safety net if you lose a game you have a chance to come back because the knockout is obviously you lose one game and you’re gone so for me I think the round-robin is really really good.”
Hannon has become the undisputed anchor of Limerick’s defence since his switch to centre-back for the 2017 season, Kiely’s first in charge. Hannon’s move has coincided with Limerick’s most dominant period of all time but the Adare man has rested safe in the knowledge of a top class full back behind him.
Mike Casey made the position his own in 2018 but fell foul of a knee ligament injury two years later with Dan Morrissey holding down the fort in his absence. Casey returned in 2022, with Morrissey reverted back to the wing, without skipping a beat, starting in each of Limerick’s seven championship games. However, there were fears over his availability for the upcoming season as he suffered a knee injury in Na Piarsaigh’s Munster semi-final loss to Ballygunner just over a week ago.
Thankfully the injury isn’t as bad as first feared with Hannon commending the effort of his teammate in getting back to the fold after missing a pair of seasons.
“I gave him (Mike Casey) a call, I actually didn’t see the match but I’d heard that he went down injured and I was sickened when I heard it, Mike had done so much work to get back into the Limerick setup at all over the last number of years and I was in awe of him looking at him there on the sideline putting in hours and hours of work on his own and it’s very difficult like.
“Thing are a lot easier when you have a group of players all doing the same thing but when you’re on your own and I’m sure there was evenings where he was finding very hard but he’s a fantastic person to come back the way he did. Fingers crossed it’s not going to be a long-term injury.”
Both Casey and Hannon first rose to prominence in the Harty Cup for their exploits in the Harty Cup for Ardscoil Rís. Hannon was part of the first side to claim the Munster title for the school in 2010 where they needed a pair of replays to see off Thurles. They retained the following year with Casey’s crop winning back the title in 2014.
The Harty Cup, alongside the Academy have been highlighted as key areas in Limerick’s new domination with nearly all coming from one or the other, or in Casey’s example both.
Hannon missed out on the foundation of the Academy but the Limerick’s captain praised the Harty Cup in preparing players for intercounty hurling.
“I wouldn’t have been there for the academy myself now but in terms of the Harty Cup and the Dean Ryan Cup in schools, it’s massive like for a player’s development, they’re playing at the top level in Munster school’s competitions and you’re competing against the best players in Munster then and the top schools,
“We played a Harty Cup final in 2010 against Thurles, it went to two replays so it took three games to sort out the Harty Cup Final, it was amazing and even the crowd that we’re at that it got you ready in some senses coming down the line but I think it’s the standard that you’re playing at that definitely benefits you in the long run.”
Limerick will return to action for the Munster Hurling Cup but firstly their attention will turn to their All-Ireland winning holiday with Hannon looking forward to getting away prior to the season’s beginning.
“We’re very lucky to be in that position to be able to go away together as a group and have a bit of fun before we get back into the season come January.”
Declan Hannon was in attendance at the unveiling of eir as a new official sponsor of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship. The five-year deal, which begins with the 2023 Championship season, will see eir’s partnership with the GAA evolve to support the Senior Hurling Championship, and will highlight the synergies that exist between hurling, the world’s fastest field sport, and eir, which is committed to providing full fibre superfast broadband to over 1.9 million homes and businesses across Ireland.