Historical past made, it was Declan Hannon’s second to savour it. He was nearly to go down within the document books as the primary man to raise the Liam MacCarthy Cup 4 instances. Essentially the most embellished hurling captain of all time. The primary to steer Limerick to a three-in-a-row.
nd it was the primary All-Eire hurling ultimate to be performed in July amid temperatures that will give an oven a run for its cash – although in a sport that was molten with the fervour and braveness of those two sides, that time was nearly incidental.
However because the magic of this second in historical past glistened and hung within the air, earlier than reaching out to know it, the Limerick captain selected to share it.
Cian Lynch had been compelled to observe this momentous victory from the sidelines after an ankle damage had dominated him out. However within the second of supreme triumph, the Limerick man was propelled from the dejection of getting missed out, to a place entrance and centre in his trademark backwards baseball cap, lifting the cup with Hannon.
It was a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed amongst the ocean of Limerick followers. “Pure class,” mentioned a person within the crowd streaming from Croke Park afterwards as one other agreed: “What else would you count on from Hannon?”
It was 29.3C within the Phoenix Park, the meteorologists mentioned, and it might probably’t have been too far behind in Croke Park.
It was a day that will rival the Carnival in Rio. A day for vuvuzelas, for mirrored sun shades, for denim cut-offs. A day for hats, flags and ice-cream cones – everybody appeared to have one after which it turned out that some advertising strategists had been canny sufficient to offer them out free.
The Limerick fan who had thought it will be a good suggestion to deliver an enormous fluffy inexperienced and white teddy bear appeared to be bitterly regretting her determination to take alongside such an more and more heat companion on such a day as this. Even on the stroll up Summerhill, a superb hour and a half earlier than throw-in, a Kilkenny father was already counselling his younger son for doable disappointment. “We may need to accept something we get,” he suggested him.
To these reminiscent of the mellow custom of the September All-Irelands, this unusual July pilgrimage to Croker felt like a stifling march throughout the arid sands of the Gobi desert. There have been complaints, particularly among the many youthful contingent. It was an excessive amount of for the followers within the black 1916 commemorative Kilkenny reproduction jerseys. These within the white Limerick polo shirts fared higher.
However whereas the solar beat down relentlessly on Hill 16, a blessed breeze was blowing throughout the Hogan Stand and people within the Cusack discovered reduction too – although, in any case, the circumstances have been rapidly forgotten within the novelty of being again in a Croke Park with a full home.
Covid had seen a 50pc capability for the finals final yr and it was removed from the identical. This was the way it was speculated to be – with a scorching sense of anticipation pulsating off the group because the Artane Band stood within the nook of the sector, poised and immobile, awaiting the pageantry after which the roars that just about drowning out the ultimate notes of Amhrán na BhFiann.
Pundits had predicted an epic conflict, one thing particular from the 2 greatest groups of the fashionable period. This felt like much more. From the primary Limerick level within the opening two minutes, the stage was set for greatness.
The conflict cry of ‘Come on Limerick’ went up
Gearóid Hegarty was like an octopus, touchdown a objective after 4 minutes that had the Limerick followers clutching each other in ecstasy. Was this the way it was going to be? It was – they only didn’t comprehend it but.
Not that Kilkenny made it simple. The Cats’ claws have been totally prolonged as they fought tooth and nail, coming again time and time once more, by no means lagging far behind, all the time posing a risk.
At half-time, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Eire Larysa Gerasko was offered with a particular hurl embellished within the blue and yellow of Ukraine to symbolise the friendship between our two nations.
In the meantime, again from no matter kind of ‘management, Alt, Delete’, changes that needed to be made within the wake of the disastrous malfunction in the course of the soccer semi-final between Galway and Derry, Hawkeye proved important on no less than two events.
On the sidelines, the fiercely tense determine of Brian Cody could possibly be seen, pacing, ever alert, firing off instructions like a scattergun. In case you embrace replays, this was his nineteenth senior ultimate nevertheless it may have been his first, so centered was he.
No supervisor has gained extra All-Irelands however what good have been 11 victories when it was the twelfth that was desperately required right here to deliver Kilkenny again from an unfamiliar famine that’s now stretching on far too lengthy?
Objectives from Billy Ryan and Martin Keoghan twice helped to deliver them again to stage pegging.
It was nailbiting and it was tense. Too tense for the Limerick followers who hissed “Jesus Christ” as one other Kilkenny level went in and the display reduce to a younger fan within the inexperienced and white, furiously chewing gum.
The conflict cry went up: “Come on, Limerick” because the scoreline stood 0-27 to 0-25 within the Munster males’s favour.
In case you may have stopped nonetheless for one second, you may need appreciated the sight of this stunning sport in quick and livid full-flow – the head of the way it ought to be performed – however who may? There was far an excessive amount of at stake for that.
Battling laborious as they have been, although, Kilkenny couldn’t pull far sufficient away from this evergreen, lithe and energetic Limerick who appeared serenely proof against the stress, proof against the searing temperatures which anybody may need anticipated to wreak havoc, and in the long run, proof against defeat. They made it look easy.
Everybody dutifully joined in for Limerick You’re a Woman nevertheless it was solely when the Cranberries’ Desires – now, rightfully and correctly Limerick’s anthem – rang out that it started to sink in that the three-in-a-row dream actually had come true.
Cody held his fingers up in resignation. One dream realised equalled one other dream dashed.
Talking to RTÉ Sport afterwards, Cody described it as “an awesome battle”, although maybe there was only a shade of bitterness in his phrases as he mentioned: “In keeping with most individuals’s predictions we weren’t on the stage to actually have a probability of attending to an All-Eire ultimate. However I feel our gamers simply deserve incredible admiration for the best way they fought it out.”
Each Kilkenny particular person ought to be happy with their efficiency, he added.
However the glory goes to Limerick – whilst they plan for a four-in-a-row of their goals.