Hannon aims for more glory as Limerick captain

Declan Hannon of Adare will attempt to become the first ever person to captain a county to three winning National Hurling Leagues on the trot in 2021, a campaign that opens for the Limerick skipper and his victorious All-Ireland Championship team mates with an intriguing clash against Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds next Saturday (5.30pm). Hannon (28) superbly guided Limerick to the last two NHL titles, along with the twin All-Ireland Championship wins of 2018 and ’20. In captaining the Shannonsiders to two league triumphs, he followed in the footsteps of our previous double winning leaders in Ahane pair Timmy Ryan (1934/’35) and Mick Mackey (1937/’38), and Leonard Enright of Patrickswell (1984/’85).
Outside of Limerick, which once stitched together five leagues in-a-row (1934-’38), only Tipperary (1959, ’60 and ’61) and Kilkenny (2012, 2013 and 2014) have managed to win the pennant competition three years in succession. This weekend’s clash throws together the All-Ireland champions of the past two seasons, a contest that will be televised live on RTE 2.
Home manager John Kiely will name his first starting selection of 2021 later in the week. Newcomers to his squad are exciting 2019 minor Cathal O’Neill (Crecora), Ballybrown’s Colin Coughlan and Doon’s Tommy Hayes, while Barry Murphy (Doon) has returned to the fold. Kilmallock’s Paddy O’Loughlin is unavailable this season.
Limerick will follow with matches against Galway (away) the following weekend, and then move forward to tackle Waterford (away), Cork (home) and Westmeath. Not long after, it will be Cork at home again, this time in the semi-final of the Munster Champion-ship.
There will be no Division 1 Hurling League quarter-finals, semi-finals or final played. There will either be joint winners for this season, or if the teams that win Division 1A and Division 1B meet in the Championship, this will double as a League Final. Limerick sit fourth in the roll-of-honour on 13 wins, behind Tipperary (19), Kilkenny (18) and Cork (14). Cork were the first winners of the league in 1926. Read Matt O’Callaghan’s preview in ‘Observer Sport’.