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Tipperary's Seamus Callanan pictured at the launch of the 2020 Allianz Hurling Leagues. 2020 marks the 28th year of Allianz’ partnership with the GAA as sponsors of the Allianz Leagues. 
Tipperary's Seamus Callanan pictured at the launch of the 2020 Allianz Hurling Leagues. 2020 marks the 28th year of Allianz’ partnership with the GAA as sponsors of the Allianz Leagues. 

Callanan feeling positive about 'Bonner' Maher's comeback


By John Harrington

2019 All-Ireland winning Tipperary captain, Seamus Callanan, has revealed that Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher is back running in training as he steps up his rehabilitation from the ruptured cruciate he suffered in last year’s Munster SHC against Limerick.

Callanan is convinced that his team-mate will make the same sort of successful comeback from the injury that Brendan Maher did last year.

“He’s doing a bit of running,” said Callanan today at the Allianz Hurling Leagues launch in Croke Park.

“Not with the group, but he’s doing a bit of running.

“Bonner is a very hard trainer and a very ambitious guy and I have no doubt that he’ll be back better than ever.

“Unfortunately we’ve had a number of guys who’ve had the knee injury over the last few years.

“So, he’s taking advice from the experts and the physios and that, and working with the S&Cs. I’m sure he’s been in contact with the likes of Brendan, Conor Hammersley as well last year did the knee, Michael Cahill.

“I’m sure they’re all talking to each other about it. Thankfully I have no experience of that injury, but all I know is that Bonner is in the shape of his life, and he’s coming back with great strength.

“It was never going to be in doubt really, because he’s the type of guy that when he puts his mind to something, like his recovery to his training, he’ll always be trying to better himself and get back stronger than he ever was.”

Patrick 'Bonner' Maher pictured in action for the Tipperary hurlers against Clare in the 2019 Munster Senior Hurling Championship.
Patrick 'Bonner' Maher pictured in action for the Tipperary hurlers against Clare in the 2019 Munster Senior Hurling Championship.

A fully fit Bonner will return to a Tipperary panel with ferocious competition for places in the forward line.

Rising stars like Jake Morris and Mark Kehoe made a positive impression last year, mainly as impact substitutes, and are the vanguard of a new generation of attackers who will be rivalling veterans like Callanan, Maher, and Noel McGrath for starting positions.

“Definitely,” said Callanan. “We had the U21s as All-Ireland champions two years ago, and the U20s last year.

“So they’re the future of Tipperary, and the more of them that can get a bit of game-time in the Allianz League and things like that to try and force their way in, that’s great. The older guys, we want that competition for places, we want to fight for the jerseys. It will benefit us all really.

“They’ll give us challenges, we’ll give them challenges and hopefully we’ll have a really good mix together. Like every year, you’re trying to find who’s the next fella who’s going to step in, or who’s going to be the young lad that comes out of nowhere.

“So it’s a great opportunity in the Allianz League to set themselves up for the summer. But the older lads aren’t going to step aside either too easily.

“You love the challenge. You love training with these guys. As well as them trying to learn from us, we can learn a lot from them as well, because they’re coming in care-free, just playing their best hurling, full of confidence after the last number of years with the U21s. They have their own ideas too, so they’re all trying to learn off each other and trying to benefit each other.”

Tipperary's Jake Morris looks like a hurler with a big future in the game.
Tipperary's Jake Morris looks like a hurler with a big future in the game.

Jake Morris told GAA.ie last December that his generation of young hurlers on the Tipperary panel are “determined to try and take one or two of the lads’ positions” in 2020.

That’s music to Callanan’s ears because he knows he’ll be forced to up his standards again if he wants to remain a mainstay of the team.

“I hope they are coming for us,” he said. “That can only shift standers upwards. We might be at a level where we think the standard is, and I’d be hoping that the younger fellas come along and blow that out of the way.

“Hopefully we’ll all rise with them, and we’ll all create a new standard together.”

* A nine-week festival of inter-county hurling gets underway on January 25th with the commencement of the Allianz Hurling Leagues. The exciting programme features 116 games across the four divisions in a campaign which will mark the 28th year of Allianz’ partnership with the GAA as sponsor of the Allianz Leagues, making it one of the longest-running sponsorships in Irish sport.

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