That winning feeling
Aaron Gillane returned to college this autumn as an All-Ireland Champion. At only 22 years old, he was a key member of the Limerick team that went on to beat Galway in August and win the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.
It has been 45 years since Limerick last won the Liam MacCarthy Cup and when they brought the cup back Shannonside this year, a massive 90,000 turned out for the occasion. So has it all sunken in for Aaron and is he still on a buzz?
“We are delighted. Things are a bit back to normal now. I am back with the club and back to college. It all helps a bit I suppose. I don’t think really any of us understood what we were after doing. I know it was in all of our heads but it hasn’t really fully sunken in yet.
When we went back to Limerick and it was crazy. 90,000 people had turned out, and the train station was packed when we pulled in! It was just unreal. One of the members of the background team, Conor MacCarthy has been with Limerick for the last 10 years. When he saw the number of people that had turned out, he just started balling crying. That would have been one of the standout moments from the week!”
The last few minutes
The All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final this year was heart-stopping stuff – well the last ten minutes were anyway. During the second half, it looked like Limerick had done enough to secure their All-Ireland title. Though, when an additional 8 minutes were added, Galway rallied their never say die attitude.
“I didn’t know what to think, to be honest with you! I thought it was never going to end. 70 minutes is long enough in an All-Ireland Final and we nearly played 80 minutes.
I suppose what came into my head would have been the years before like 1994, and 1996, when Limerick had such a big League and lost to Offaly. Though, I didn’t have too much time though to ponder on that! We all had our own jobs to do, so we were just focusing on that! But thank god, we came out on the right side now and we are all grateful for that.”
Aaron may be a young player but he stepped up to the plate this year and took on the reasonability of being the free-taker. Did he ever feel any added pressure with this role?
“I didn’t, to be honest, no. I am the first choice free-taker but if I ever came off there are plenty more lads there to take them. Tom Morrissey took them against Cork this year. We would have Shane Dowling to come in and as well, and sure he is one of the best free-takers in the country, so no I wouldn’t have felt any extra pressure now. I knew we had a very strong backup!”
What lies ahead
The average age of the Limerick team is 23, and for Aaron, their youthfulness helped them this year with their win.
“We are a young team, and we all kind of came up through the ranks together. We would have played underage together in the same team. We all used to play together so that would have definitely helped. Small little things like that all definitely add up and it helped us get the win!”
And does he have any idea what might be in store for Limerick next year?
“I haven’t thought about that too much now to be honest with you. But hopefully we will go into next year with the same setup and we will be having the conversation about Limerick winning the All-Ireland again.
That is a long shot now that is miles away, but suppose we will just go back now at around Christmas time. We will all be focused on the upcoming League, and we will just take it every match from there.”