Hannon: Limerick not in full flow yet but have learned to win games ugly

DECLAN HANNON ADMITS that Limerick haven’t quite found their groove yet this season, despite sealing a return to their second All-Ireland final in three years.

Had they not fallen to Kilkenny in last year’s semi-final, Limerick might well be going for a hat-trick of successive All-Irelands.

Despite their Munster final win over Waterford and last four defeat of Galway, many feel that Limerick are not yet operating at their best. 

“You can feel it on the field that there’s not a real flow that we’d be used to in our game, at times,” says skipper Declan Hannon.

“But again that’s down to the massive intensity and workrate that Waterford brought to the Munster final and that Galway brought the last day.

“It’s not always going to be as free flowing as you’d like it to be. Years have gone by where Limerick have given good performances and after the game you’d say, ‘Jeez, that was a great performance’ but you still lost.

“It’s maybe good as well that we’ve probably played the last two games not firing on all cylinders but still getting the result. It’s nice to win those ugly games as well if you can. It’s a good experience to get them into the group of players as well.”

He says it’s a strange experience to be preparing for an All-Ireland final as Christmas approaches.

“It’s the total opposite of the buildup to 2018. First and foremost we’re putting up a Christmas tree and trying to get ready for an All-Ireland final which is gas.

“I’m delighted to be back in the final, the second time in three years. The hype around Limerick in 2018 was massive, there was flags and bunting all over the county.

“Even around the city, everywhere I went people wanted to talk about it whereas this year you’re not going anywhere, you’re not meeting anybody, we’re working from home as much as we can like everyone else around the country.

“Yeah, totally different but from a player’s point of view it’s quite similar, you’re getting ready as best you can over the next 10 days and ready then to face Waterford on Sunday week.”

Despite the lack of crowds, the squad are determined to add a second All-Ireland to their medal haul.

“You don’t get to All-Irelands every single year so when you do you have to make hay. 

“Who knows what’s going to happen next year or the year after. We’re just focusing on Sunday week and getting that one more big performance out of us this year and hopefully that’ll be enough to get another All-Ireland title back to Limerick.”

Hannon made his Limerick debut in 2010 and it would be another three years before he tasted success on the provincial stage.

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Now the Treaty are reigning Munster and National League champions, and head into the All-Ireland final as favourites to beat Waterford for the second time this season.

“It was always a dream to get to where we are at the minute. Thankfully in 2018 it became a reality and then it was, ‘Well, right, we’ve done it once, why can’t you go and do it again?’

“In 2019, we got close enough but just didn’t get there. But again, that showed that we were up there with the best and coming into 2020 we wanted to push on again and try to get back to the All-Ireland final.

“I think we’ve taken great confidence over the last number of years that we are up there with the best of the teams and well able to compete.”

He didn’t give a speech after winning the league or provincial title because he was under instruction not to due to Covid-19 protocols.

“I’ve been told not to. It’s strange. The league final and the Munster, you were putting up the cup and putting it back down and then it’s head off over to the dressing-rooms again.

“That’s the way it is, we’d obviously like to acknowledge a lot of people but the way things are with Covid it was just about respecting all the boundaries that we were being told to follow. That’s the way it is at the minute.”

On their final opponents, he says: “Massively impressed and I have been all year with all their games.

“I don’t think they’ve lost a whole pile in league or championship since the start of the year. Waterford were in the All-Ireland final in 2017 as well, it’s not as if you become a bad team overnight or anything.

“I suppose ’18 and ’19 just didn’t go their way. We in Limerick know how a few years can go by very, very quickly with very few wins.

“It can change very, very quickly as well and Liam Cahill has done a serious job with them because they were very, very impressive against Kilkenny the last day to come back from the number of points down they were at half-time, against a team like Kilkenny. You’d have to tip your hat to them.”

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