Skipper Declan Hannon happy to lead youthful Limerick from the back

LIMERICK SKIPPER Declan Hannon admits he’s thought about what he’d say if he’s tasked with making an historic All-Ireland-winning speech tomorrow, but insists his mind is on the task at hand.

And the Treaty camp know they have a huge challenge in front of them in dethroning defending champions and much-fancied Galway.

Hannon is one of the more seasoned members of a panel that had little experience of Croke Park before the epic semi-final win over Cork.

They made light of that callowness at HQ and booked their spot in the championship finale with a hugely-impressive extra-time win at the Rebels’ expense.

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“I’m 25 then you have a group who are around 22-years-of-age and there are a few 28 and one or two 30-year-olds,” says the Adare clubman.

“That is it and it is gas because you wouldn’t notice it in training or the dressing room. Everyone gets on so, so well. The age is just irrelevant. The young lads coming in have brought a new lease of life, a real confidence with them coming in from the underage ranks.”

Hannon will likely line out at centre back again, having earned his spurs with the county side in the forward line. Manager John Kiely switched him back to a position he was always familiar with thanks to successful Harty and Fitzgibbon Cup campaigns.

“Growing up I was always in the backs, in the half back line, most of the time centre back in schools or colleges growing up,” he says.

“Any inter-county team or player will tell you if you’re told to go here you go there because there is another three or four lads waiting to come in there if you don’t want to do it. Everybody this year has bought in, no matter where you’re put you are there to do a job. So far they have been doing it very, very well.”

And the role has changed he agrees: “I suppose teams are trying to find any bit of weakness at all in the opposition to try to get the better of them. Teams are trying to hold their shape as best they can. The opposition are trying to drag teams as best as they can so it is whoever sticks to the process the best is going to come out on the right side of the result.”

As Limerick will try to find that knockout blow against Galway this weekend, the Treaty will recall the bonding experience of a charity boxing night in the depths of winter, which brought this panel together and set them on the road to an All-Ireland final.

“I fought Tom Morrissey, a big strong man,” says Hannon of his defeat on the evening. “It probably was good to do it because it definitely bonded us. The training was tough for it, the night of it was very, very tough.

“It probably did gel us together. It was a new thing we had never done before, the freshness instead of just running around the field in November and December. We were going off doing something totally different going boxing training. The fitness levels from that are unreal, but once is enough.”

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