Hannon: 'We’ve created something really strong'
By Cian O'Connell
These are exciting times for Limerick, who collected a fourth All Ireland title in five years at Croke Park.
Declan Hannon has led by example during that brilliant green and white burst.
To eventually prevail following a gripping game against Kilkenny meant this was added to Limerick's collection of stirring triumphs.
"Absolutely over the moon, it was a titanic struggle at times to get over the line, but it’s sheer elation now," Hannon remarked. "It’s a dream come true every year, but it’s true.
"A lot of time, effort and commitment goes into a day like today and it’s so special for our group - we’ve created something really strong in the last few years.
"I’m very proud of the boys and the way they dug deep there at the end - and we had to, because Kilkenny came at us with absolutely everything we tried to do for a finish."
Limerick had to show admirable resolve at various stages of the 2022 campaign including an unfortunate ankle injury suffered by Cian Lynch in the build yp to the decider. "I’m over the moon for absolutely everybody, we were dealt a few blows throughout the year, and in the last week even with Cian (Lynch), the group just rallied together and it was nearly sheer stubbornness got us over the line," Hannon said.
Even when Limerick leaked two second half goals, John Kiely's side remained composed.
"Whenever you concede a goal you’re trying to get the next score - it doesn’t always happen, but our bench came on and was immense," Hannon added.
"Peter (Casey), (Conor) Boylan and Cathal (O’Neill), it was just a case of get them the ball when they get on the line and they drove us over the line, the way they did in the semi-final as well. I’m just delighted."
Kilkenny's defiance was a real factor as Brian Cody's outfit battled until the end. "We built up a couple of leads of five points or six points at times, but Kilkenny haven’t won so many All-Irelands by just rolling over," Hannon stated.
"They’re relentless, they keep going and going, and they came with everything. We were under savage pressure - they were winning balls they shouldn’t be winning and we weren't winning balls we should - but that’s testament to Kilkenny.
"That’s why they’re the team they are, and why they’re the team they have been forever.
"We’ve learned a lot from Kilkenny, the way they play and the sheer intensity they bring to games, it’s relentless stuff from them - the physicality and the skill, it was never going to be an easy game today.
"Lads are just knackered at the moment, but they enjoyed it as well."