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'I'd hate to hear that now' - theory that Tipp forward duo cannot play alongside each other is a myth

Eoin Kelly on how Tipperary can get the most out of Seamus Callanan and Jason Forde.

THERE WAS A void created in the Tipperary attack this spring and Jason Forde filled it in style.

With their talisman Seamus Callanan absent due to a back injury, Forde stepped up to shine in the scoring stakes.

Seamus Callanan and Jason Forde celebrate at the final whistle Seamus Callanan and Jason Forde celebrating after the 2016 All-Ireland final win. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

He had 5-60 to his credit, 5-11 of that arriving from open play, by the time Tipperary landed in Nowlan Park for the league decider with Kilkenny.

And despite Tipperary succumbing to defeat that day, Forde’s contribution of 2-12 at full-forward was ample evidence that he lived up to his end of the bargain.

With Tipperary stepping out on the championship circuit for the first time on Sunday at the Gaelic Grounds as they take on Limerick, there is a selection dilemma for manager Michael Ryan.

Callanan is back in harness, a fresh addition to their attacking options. Tipperary name their team tonight but how can accommodate the returning Callanan and the incumbent Forde?

Jason Forde celebrates scoring a goal Jason Forde celebrates scoring a goal for Tipperary against Kilkenny. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

For Eoin Kelly, a Tipperary attacking great who hurled alongside both players, the answer is simple and he rejects suggestions being bandied about that the pair are too similar to fit alongside each other in attack.

“Yeah I’d hate to hear that now, some one in Tipperary says you can’t play Seamus Callanan in full forward because Jason Forde is there. Have the two of them in an inside full forward line, I’d love to see them in there, plenty space, that being the gameplan to get plenty ball into them.

“I’ll tell you if the two of them were hitting form like we know they can, Tipp would be serious. I’d be a happy Tipp supporter looking at that.”

An All-Ireland winner in 2010, Callanan really caught fire and began to establish himself from the start of the 2014 campaign. He struck 5-62 in league action and 9-50 in the championship that season. The following year there were further eye-catching scoring totals posted with 3-45 registered in the league and 5-20 in championship encounters.

Seamus Callanan with Gearoid McInerney Seamus Callanan in action for Tipperary against Galway in last year's All-Ireland semi-final. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Forde’s career path has been similar with his undoubted talent yet to be fully expressed on a consistent basis for Tipperary. The hope in the county is that this spring could be a turning point.

“Maybe Seamie Callanan’s misfortune in having an injury turned out to be good fortune for Jason, that he was thrown the responsibility of taking frees. Like he’s been brilliant in the league, he’s sharp, he looks lean. He’s a goal getter as well.

“He’s Tipp’s key man but if you got the two of the boys key men, that’d be some push on for Tipp. You probably have to (keep Forde on frees). Seamus could easily hit a few long range ones.”

In 2009 Kelly watched on from the sidelines due to injury in the early months before exploding into action come the summer showdowns. He has no concerns about Callanan’s capacity to cope despite missing action to date in 2018.

Paddy Power (5) Eoin Kelly with fellow Paddy Power hurling ambassador Diarmuid O'Sullivan this week in Dublin.

“Do you know what I remember 2009, I probably missed all the league and Sheedy just said to me you’re going to be playing (and) we’ve the confidence in you. Show the confidence, maybe that’s the way I’d approach it with Seamus Callanan.

“Obviously he’s back training, I don’t know how he’s going or anything, but you’d get a feel for a lad. If he’s moving well in training I’d probably throw him in. He’d be hungry for it like.

“I saw him in a club match and I liked the way he was moving. He mightn’t have set the world on fire but he seemed to be moving freely. I’d love to see the two of them starting now next weekend.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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