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Making the Munster final would be 'a bonus' for Limerick

Just five members of the current Treaty panel have tasted provincial success in the past.

Declan Hannon lifts the league title.
Declan Hannon lifts the league title.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MAKING IT INTO the top three in Munster is Limerick’s main priority while reaching a provincial final would be “a bonus” according to captain Declan Hannon.

Just five players in the Treaty squad hold Munster senior medals – Hannon, Nickie Quaid, Tom Condon, Graeme Mulcahy and Shane Dowling.

Limerick finished last season’s provincial campaign in third place behind Clare and Cork, advancing to the All-Ireland series where they would go on to lift the Liam MacCarthy.

The two sides who failed to make it out of Munster last season appointed new managers, with Liam Sheedy returning to the hot seat in Tipperary and Paraic Fanning taking charge in Waterford.

Winning the provincial title would make Limerick the holders of the league, Munster and All-Ireland titles consecutively – which would be a remarkable achievement for John Kiely’s young squad.

But while adding a provincial medal would be welcomed, their main focus is retaining the All-Ireland crown.

“The Munster championship is massive and it’s very competitive,” says the All-Ireland winning captain.

“We’re looking forward to it. You could call out three teams there and they might go through or you could put in two different names. It’s all on the day in these games. If you can get a run in the first round, it sets you up. You lose in the first round and you’re under savage pressure. 

“Getting into the top three is the priority in Munster. If you get to the Munster final, that’s a bonus,” added Hannon.

“A lot of the lads don’t have Munster medals – it’s a nice one to have. We’re taking it game by game and see where we get with it.”

Hannon admits departed Limerick sports psychologist Caroline Currid, who played a major role in the Treaty ending their 45-year famine, “converted” him to the benefits of mental training.

“I suppose I wasn’t really (into it) before, maybe a bit more now,” he says.

Declan Hannon, Sarah Dervan, Sean Wade, Sinead Ahearn and Michael Murphy Hannon was speaking at the Kellogg's GAA Cul Camps Campaign launch. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Different things in preparation, everything like that, there’s massive benefits to having a sport performance coach. They’re excellent at what they do, and it’s the small things, they pick up on everything.

“Previously I might have said, ‘Aw I’ll be grand’, but you mightn’t always be grand.

“Caroline converted us yeah, she was fantastic.”

Currid has been replaced by former Galway hurler Tony Og Regan, who worked with Tipperary hurlers for their All-Ireland senior success in 2016 and the Tribe All-Ireland minor hurling winning sides of 2015 and 2017.

“Tony has just carried on where Caroline left off last year so look, it’s very very good,” says Hannon.

“Everybody has met Tony on a one-to-one basis and as a group setting. He’s been very very good, a seamless transition from Caroline last year to Tony this year. Lads have bought into and they’re very happy with Tony.”

Hannon explains he finds the biggest benefit in pre-game preparation and blocking “out any outside influences.”

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“It’s probably one of the main ones to be honest. Maybe in years gone by Limerick got carried away with what people said in the media or what fans were saying, it’s kind of irrelevant at the end of the day.

Tony Og Regan Tony Og Regan played in the 2012 All-Ireland SHC final for Galway. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“We have to go onto the pitch and do what we have to do. People could tell you go left and you’d go right or whatever, we kind of just focus more on ourselves.”

Since he took over in 2017, Kiely has put an extensive backroom team in Limerick that rivals the Dublin footballers for size, with 23 people involved last year.  

“John is an excellent manager and he has very good people skills. He’s put in an unreal structure there. There’s so many people involved in the backroom team that it’s frightening trying to name them out, you’d be under a bit of pressure to remember them all.

“In terms of stats and video analysis teams and everything like that – I presume it’s the same on every county team – that’s just the way it’s gone over the past number of years. 

“John has assembled a really good bunch of guys.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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