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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Pat Nolan

Limerick captain Declan Hannon: 'I'd drive myself mad watching matches'

Declan Hannon isn’t big into tennis, but he was aware that Wimbledon was in full flow for the past couple of weeks at least.

The thing is, though, when he’s looking to switch off from hurling, he’s not too fussy about how the void is filled.

So, as Kilkenny took on Clare in the All-Ireland semi-final last Saturday week, he was kicking back watching King Richard, the Oscar-winning biopic that tells the story of how Venus and Serena Williams’ father helped make the pair into two of the most prolific champions in tennis history.

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“I just don't know, I'd drive myself mad watching matches I think, to be honest,” says the Limerick captain.

Perhaps the situation was complicated by the fact that Limerick still had their own semi-final against Galway to come the next day, and Hannon would have watched their prospective opponents if they had already secured their spot in the final?

“I don't think so,” he admits. “I haven't watched a whole pile of games throughout the year, I don't know.

“Maybe it’s strange in that sense, you think you'd be watching all the matches but I suppose you're nearly five nights a week at it anyway. It's kind of time to switch off when you're not involved.

“You need that as well, you need to take a break and refresh your mind and your body and everything. We can't always be constantly hurling 24-7. I think that's a good thing as well just to step back from it when you can.”

Of course, they’re so well versed at it at this stage, to such a degree that they tower over Kilkenny in terms of big day experience approaching Sunday’s final, which will be the fourth for Hannon and the bulk of his teammates.

“I suppose we’ve probably learned a lot from 2018 in terms of that being the first All-Ireland for any of us to play in, it was a bit of a circus at times in terms of tickets and everything else that goes on outside the pitch, and I suppose we’ve learned to park that and let somebody else deal with all that stuff.

“From the players’ point of view, it’s obviously just to get ready for what happens inside the white lines and do the best we can in that sense, that’s all we can do then.”

It’s not a matter of pulling down the shutters completely, however. That’s something that the pandemic left them with little option but to do in the last two years and the lack of engagement with the public left Hannon a little cold.

“Definitely, in 2020 we were staying inside as much as possible and trying not to meet anybody.

“With Covid you couldn’t risk missing an All-Ireland final by going down to the shop nearly, whereas this year there’s obviously a lot more freedom to get out and about and bump into the public in our jobs and daily lives, so that’s enjoyable.

“You would miss that side of things as well, there’s a great relationship between the Limerick players and supporters and vice-versa, so we’re just enjoying it all at the minute.”

He adds: “It is a balancing act, but I suppose you have to embrace that side of it as well and enjoy it. People are only mad to wish you the best of luck, which is fantastic.

“The Limerick supporters really are brilliant, they always have been and they wish you well nearly every day of the week - the same people you could be meeting.

“Yeah, it is a balancing act but to be honest I try and enjoy it as much as I can and embrace it. It’s part of it, it would be very sad if we weren't in this situation and there was nobody talking to us, so it’s great and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Last year, Hannon emulated Cork great Christy Ring by lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup for a third time as captain, though the prospect of surpassing him and claiming the record outright this Sunday is not something that has occupied his thoughts.

“Not really, I’m not lying but I haven’t really thought about that at all. For players there’s always something else coming around the corner, I can’t be thinking about anything other than the next training session and getting ready for that.

“If I’m distracted by other things I won’t be doing what’s right for the team, and that’s unacceptable.”


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