Seamus Callanan 'looking forward' to new campaign
By Cian O'Connell
On the eve of a new campaign Tipperary's Seamus Callanan is ready for road again.
It was a frustrating 2018 with injuries and Championship disappointment, but the blue and gold team are intent on making an impact.
Liam Sheedy's return as manager and the addition of a dozen All Ireland Under 21 winners to the panel for the Co-op Superstores Munster Hurling League ensures a sense of optimism exists.
"We probably had a longer break than we would have liked, we went out of the Championship early," Callanan says about Tipperary's enthusiasm for the upcoming winter and spring challenges.
"But you’d be raring then to get going again. The Club Championship went on for a while as well, but that’s over now and you’ve had your break, you’re anxious to get back to build in 2019. We saw the standard of hurling this summer, a lot of teams were playing fabulous hurling, there were a lot of great games - it was tough and we didn’t prevail so our year was cut short.
"It’s a results business and we didn’t get through, so we have to use that to drive us next year."
That is why Callanan is interested to see what experimentation Sheedy carries out in the coming weeks commencing on Friday evening against Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds. "It’s great to get games, we’re gone so long that any opportunity to have games and to get back on the road, we’re mad to take them," Callanan states.
"We’re playing tomorrow against the All-Ireland champions so it’s great to have a game like that so early in the year. The Under 21s had a great win in the All-Ireland last year so they’re well entitled to have their shot as well.
"You’d be looking forward to seeing what they have to bring, they’ll bring energy and freshness to it, so it all bodes well."
Callanan accepts that it is a particularly exciting time for hurling with so many outfits believing that the Liam MacCarthy Cup can be hoisted. "I think last year’s Championship showed that, I think a lot of teams would fancy their chances of being competitive, of beating any team on any given day," Callanan remarks.
"The Championship is as strong as it ever was and every match is there to be won. Every team fancies their chances."
The new summer format was packed with drama and Callanan relished the challenge. "We played four weekends in a row and it’s not easy, but everyone will tell you it was a great entertaining Championship," Callanan comments.
"I remember sitting down watching matches on Saturday nights, Kilkenny-Wexford, Cork-Limerick in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, and we’d be playing the following day. Every game was really a thrilling encouter, it was great viewing for supporters, a really good Championship.
"Obviously if you win your first or second game it does take a little pressure off, at the same time you have to take games on their own merits, to give your all for that game. But you also need luck out there, too."