Declan Hannon hoping to follow in his Tipperary granduncle's footsteps

Anne O'Grady

Reporter:

Anne O'Grady

Declan Hannon hoping to follow in his Tipperary granduncle's footsteps

Hannon is bidding to follow in the footsteps of his famous late granduncle Pat Stakelum

It might seem strange for a Tipperary newspaper to be previewing the All-Ireland senior hurling final when The Premier County is not involved.
However, with such strong local connections to the Limerick captain Declan Hannon, who is bidding to follow in the footsteps of his famous late granduncle Pat Stakelum, All-Ireland winning captain of 1949, we simply could not let the opportunity pass.
Declan's mother, Brigid Stakelum, is a member of the very well known Stakelum family of Castle Avenue, Thurles - Brian Stakelum, her nephew and first cousin of Declan is currently the kitman with the Tipperary senior hurling team.
And, Brigid and her husband Joe Hannon will be on tenderhooks this week as they pray that their 26 year old son will be ascending the steps of the Hogan Stand at the end of the clash with Galway, just as her uncle Pat did in 1949 to start the three-in-a-row for Tipperary. The Premier County men defeated Laois on that day in Croke Park by 3-11 to 0-3 in front of 67,168 spectators with Pat playing a starring role.
Pat, of Holycross Ballycahill fame, hurled with his brothers, including Brigid's father John, and went on to become a Tipperary hurling legend as player, for a short time as County Board Secretary, and then selector. He was also a founding member of Durlas Og, and how proud would he be to see his grand nephew playing on All-Ireland Final day in the same position he himself filled so often.
Of course, Declan's mother is also a first cousin of Richard Stakelum who captained Tipp to win the Munster Final in 1987 in Killarney famously proclaiming 'The Famine is Over'. And, Richard's brother Conor, another All-Ireland senior hurling medalist, has just completed a term as selector with the Tipp senior team.
Throw in the first cousin connection with the Ryan brothers, Bobby - who captained Tipp to win the All-Ireland senior hurling title in 1989, thereby bridging an eighteen year gap - and Aidan, who played such an integral part in that victory, and it's clear to see that the hurling lineage is very strong in the current Limerick skipper.
Declan Hannon won two Dr Harty Cups with Ardscoil Ris - the first against Thurles CBS in 2010 when he lined up against his first cousin Aidan Stakelum - and the second a year later against CBS Charleville. He went on to win a Fitzgibbon Cup with Mary Immaculate College in 2016 and has won a county senior hurling title with his club Adare in 2009 when he scored three points from wing forward in their victory over Na Piarsaigh.
A recruitment consultant by profession, Declan, an All-Star nominee, has a Munster senior hurling final medal to his credit from 2013 when Limerick defeated Cork. And, few outside of Galway would begrudge the affable centre back the chance of winning an All-Ireland medal with Limerick, thereby bridging a yawning gap going back to 1973 - the Treaty County has been in four All-Irelands since, but have yet to come out on the right side of the result to add to their five previous titles.
While he has featured in attack on many occasions for Limerick, Declan has been an ever present at the heart of the Limerick defence in recent times - following in the footsteps of his famous granduncle who marshalled the Tipperary rearguard for many years. However, Pat Stakelum also lined out regularly at midfield and at centre forward, though he always admitted that centre back was his preferred position.
Tipperary hurling supporters would love to see Declan Hannon winning an All-Ireland medal, and if he were to do so as captain of the Limerick team, better still. There will be great celebrations in the Stakelum households throughout The Premier County on Sunday evening were he to join the elite list of All-Ireland winning captains, but for the time being, the focus will be on ensuring that all the preparations run smoothly for Sunday's big game.
Of course the ticket crisis in Limerick is at fever pitch, so it looks like most of Declan's aunts, uncles and cousins will just have to watch the big game on TV.
We wish him well.