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'It’s a short enough career. When things aren’t going too bad, you try and make it last as long as you can'

Colm Callanan turns 36 this summer but he’s looking forward to defending the All-Ireland with Galway.

JUST OVER A year ago, Colm Callanan seriously contemplated walking away from the Galway set-up.

Colm Callanan Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The goalkeeper was 34 at that stage, with 11 years of senior inter-county hurling behind him.

Thankfully for Callanan, he threw his lot in for 2017 and managed to win the Celtic Cross medal that had eluded him up to that point.

“I had good conversations with the management at the start of last year and thankfully I went back,” he says. “I would have missed out on a fair bit!

“I won’t lie, for the last three years, since 2015, I’ve been thinking ‘Will we go again?’”

With the momentum that a first All-Ireland success since 1988 brings, Callanan’s decision to return for 2018 was a much more straight forward one.

“It’s a short enough career, even if you do get to the 10, 12-year mark. It’s a small enough chunk out of your life. When you are there and things aren’t going too bad, you try and make it last as long as you can.

“I’m self-employed. I’ve only a couple of sessions under my belt now. Since we came back I’m looking at a few business options so in fairness to management they gave me a bit of breathing space to get things sorted.

“I was back there last week doing a few sessions so I’ll throw the hat in the ring for another year and see how I go.”

Callanan watched plenty of talented former team-mates, such as ex-skipper David Collins, agonisingly miss out on an All-Ireland medal.

“I’m there since 2007 and I’ve seen a lot of players come and go. Good friends of mine and people who poured their heart and soul into hurling for Galway for many’s a year.

“They missed out on everything last year but that’s the way it goes. New players came in last year and in their first year they’re starting off with a league, Leinster and an All-Ireland under their belts. That’s the rub of the green.”

Colm Callanan celebrates Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Kinvara man turns 36 in July, but still reckons there are areas of his game he can improve on. His mistake for Waterford’s second goal in last year’s All-Ireland final still grates on him.

“You are always looking back, especially at the type of goals I let in in the All Ireland final,” he explains.

“You are always looking back to see what you can improve on. The goalkeeping position has evolved a lot in the last 10 years. To be honest back then I thought we were just there to restart play and hit the ball down the field as far as you can and, ‘There you go lads.’

“Now fellas are nearly asking you to put it in their left hand or their right hand. That is just the way it has evolved. Every team has a stats team or whatever, you might look back on a little bit of footage on players you might be playing against to see is there any little preferences they may have. Any little small thing at all that might help you, you will take it.

“Maybe it is mental preparation before the game – that you are just ready that if something does go wrong, get the ball, try to pick somebody out, to see if we can get a score the far side. I think we did get a score quick enough after that [goal] again and we got back on track again.

“Nothing was mentioned about it at half-time so I said, ‘Grand, maybe nobody saw it.’ The lads let me know after it. You just continue on, you try to shift it out of your head as quick as you can. Once the dust settled I had a bit of thinking done on what should I have done in that situation. I know what I should have done, but there is always a learning curve.

“When was the final whistle went I didn’t give a damn at that stage, I didn’t care if 10 goals went in once we got the cup. That was the big outcome we wanted, a couple of goals went in, I’d like to keep a clean sheet, but at the end of the day we won the game. That is all that mattered really.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Kevin O'Brien

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