Limerick players want to make their own history
By Cian O'Connell
Declan Hannon admits that Limerick always felt that they were ready to deliver in 2018.
Another gripping chapter was added to the story at Croke Park on Sunday as Limerick secured a memorable win over Cork.
Ultimately it means Limerick are now preparing for their first All Ireland final in 11 years with Hannon acknowledging that it is extra special following some recent disappointments.
"It is of course," the Limerick captain states. "There is always heartbreak in losses, but I don't think we were ready in those years for the occasions and the semi-finals.
"We are a different group mentally and physically this 2018 squad. I just thought we were in better space coming into this and going eight or nine points down, we kept going and ground it out until the final whistle."
It was similar to what happened against Galway at Pearse Stadium during the spring when a typically defiant Limerick rally earned promotion from Division 1B of the Allianz League.
Why have Limerick shown such character during the current campaign? "Probably back at the start of November we did a boxing fundraiser and we kinda went at each other on the night of it and it just built morale and built a bond that hasn't been broken this year," Hannon responds.
"I think everybody has just bought into what we are trying to do and that is the main difference to be honest, everybody, 1 to 36, like there is 10 lads in that dressing room who aren't togged out and they really drive it.
"I just heard John (Kiely) talking about the 'A' versus 'B's, you know a lot of time the 'B' team - or the perceived 'B' team - are on top in those games. You know that is massive preparation for these kind of games.
"We haven't played a whole massive amount of challenge games against other counties, we have kinda stuck in house and worked on ourselves."
Limerick's players and management, though, are adamant not to be caught by the hype which has been a factor in the county previously.
"Absolutely, yeah," Hannon says. "It is just from past experience of Limerick teams and management that we kinda roll on a wave of emotion after winning a Munster title or an all Ireland quarter-final and then coming up to Croke Park for a semi-final and we are not ready - and just expecting it to happen.
"Obviously it doesn't. Limerick supporters are unbelievable. Similarly Cork, there was obviously a massive crowd there. But we try to take ourselves as far away from the hype as possible to just get back training for the next few weeks."
Hannon also stresses that Limerick panel is simply focused on the present to 'create their own history' in the coming weeks.
"It's gas," Hannon laughs about the debate which swirls about Limerick needing to end a 45 year search to claim the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
"None of the boys in that dressing, in a sense, they never talk about that our think about that. It is kind of a new group of lads, a new era. As Tom Morrissey said before 'trying to create their own history' and we've got to the All Ireland final, but we obviously want to win it because we really want to make history."