Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Pat Nolan

Could Declan Hannon's injury be one too many for Limerick?

Limerick will enter their All-Ireland semi-final next month as favourites, but the absence of their talisman will bring some level of vulnerability.

It’s an extremely rare occurrence, after all, that they are led out by anyone other than Declan Hannon, though he’s “hopeful” that a knee injury sustained during the recent Munster final win over Clare will have cleared up in time for an All-Ireland final should Limerick move within 70 minutes of the four-in-a-row.

"There's not really a timeline,” he says. “I just got a bit of a nick on my knee so it just depends on how it recovers now in the next few weeks. I'm just taking it day-by-day now, trying to get the rehab going and trying to get back on the pitch as soon as possible.

“A small bang, it was. It will just take a bit of time. I suppose the semi-final will just come a bit too soon.”

Whether it’s Dan Morrissey or Diarmaid Byrnes or Kyle Hayes or someone else that slots in at No 6, their relative inexperience in the role will surely be something that Tipperary, Galway or Dublin, their possible opponents come July 8, will go after.

Hannon was pitched in for his Championship debut in a qualifier win over Wexford in 2011, the then 18-year-old Hannon hitting 0-9 from wing-forward, and the Adare man has played in 53 of Limerick’s 54 Championship games in the interim.

The odd one out was the Munster round robin tie against Tipperary in 2019, a game in which manager John Kiely indulged in some squad rotation with a place in the provincial final all but secured. Limerick lost by four points that day but romped to a 12-point victory over the same opposition next time out as Hannon lifted the Munster Cup for the first time as captain.

So, you’d have to go back to a qualifier defeat to Offaly in 2010 for the last time that Limerick played in a knockout Championship game without Hannon. That year was Limerick hurling’s rock bottom, the season that they fielded a shadow team as a dozen or so players took issue with manager Justin McCarthy’s ruthless culling of a similar number.

We’re now very much in Limerick hurling’s golden era and Hannon has been at the centre of all of their greatest moments, firstly as a key forward on the team that won a breakthrough Munster title in 2013 before anchoring the team as captain from centre-back for the four All-Irelands, five Munsters and three Leagues that they’ve claimed since 2018.

Hannon has missed bits and pieces of League campaigns, including this year’s, though his durability has been remarkable.

“I had an operation on my ankle at the end of 2013 but didn’t miss a whole pile of 2014 because I had got it done early enough in the season. Touch wood, I’ve been very lucky, thank God.

“You see some of the injuries, Cian [Lynch] missed a lot of last year, Seán’s [Finn] one this year, Mike Casey, his brother Peter, Richie English, Barry Murphy, there have been some long-term injuries so I’ve been lucky.

“I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting a bit old, I’m 30 now, maybe the body is just giving out a small bit.”

Those injuries haven’t slowed the rate at which they have collected trophies, though they were particularly vulnerable in the run-in last year. With Finn already gone for the season, there’s always the danger that they’ll eventually suffer one injury too many.

“We’ve a really strong panel of players who have been involved over the last number of years,” Hannon insists.

“They mightn’t have played on the pitch in All-Ireland semi-finals or finals, but they’ve been involved in all the training in the lead-up to this. So, they’re primed to go whenever they’re called upon, and you can see the impact our subs made in the Munster final.

“Look at David Reidy, he got his chance two weeks ago and was fantastic. So I’ve every confidence that, regardless of the team Limerick put out, they’ll go out and try and hit the standards that we set. And if that’s good enough on the day, happy days. If it’s not, it’s not.

“But just the panel of players we have at the minute is strong and we can take really good confidence from that.”

Since his suffering a cruciate injury in April, Finn has been absorbed into Limerick’s performance analysis team and though Hannon won’t take on a specific role like that, he’ll do his bit behind the scenes ahead of the semi-final.

“If you can't do a whole pile on the pitch, you have to try and contribute as much as you can off it.

“I suppose it's just supporting the lads and if there are any issues or if they're looking for anything at all - whether it's on or off the pitch, or if they need assistance with anything - I'll just try and be there for them and make like as easy for them as possible in the lead-up to the semi-final.

“There's a lot of distractions in the lead-up to these big games - a lot of questions, queries and things like that - so I'll support the boys in any way I possibly can. I don't think they'll be looking for advice because they'd tell me where to go quickly enough. But I'll help in any way I can at all.”

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.