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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 13 November, 2018
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'Unmarkable' Tipp star Callanan can finally land Hurler of the Year crown

James Barry believes the time has come for his teammate to win the prize in 2016.

Seamus Callanan celebrates with Tipperary fans after last Sunday's victory.
Seamus Callanan celebrates with Tipperary fans after last Sunday's victory.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

SEAMUS CALLANAN HAS been tipped to claim the ‘Hurler of the Year’ award for the first time by a Tipperary teammate who is well aware of the attacking havoc the Drom-Inch man can wreak.

Tipperary full-back James Barry has been frequently tasked with trying to stop full-forward Callanan during in-house training games.

The two-time All-Star winner demonstrated his scoring prowess by landing 0-13 – including nine sparkling efforts from play – in last Sunday’s win over Kilkenny.

For the last two years Callanan has been nominated for ‘Hurler of the Year’ along with TJ Reid and Richie Hogan but it is the Kilkenny player – Reid 2015, Hogan 2014 – that have claimed the top prize.

“I know Seamie from marking him in training, if the ball is in properly, he’s unmarkable,” states Barry.

“He’s so fast and so strong, if he gets proper ball and he gets the ball in his hand, the defender can’t do much more.

“From marking him you know the ball he wants and the ball he doesn’t want. He’s been nominated for Hurler of the Year the last two years and I presume this year he’ll actually take the final step and get Hurler of the Year.

“It’s fully deserved. He’s been the marksman for the country over the last few years. Hopefully now this year he’ll get his due reward.”

James Barry celebrates at the final whistle James Barry celebrates Tipperary's victory

Sunday represented a seminal victory for Barry. He’d claimed All-Ireland medals at minor in 2007, U21 in 2010 and intermediate in 2012 but this was his senior breakthrough after previously watching former underage teammates shine at senior level.

“It was kind of frustrating watching them but thank God now we’re all here together as winners. I think the boys were a lot physically bigger than me at U21 and minor.

“It’s only when I went to college, I did a lot of the gym work. The conditioning with Tipp brought me on in the last couple of years. It was beneficial.”

James Barry celebrates with the Liam McCarthy James Barry gets his hands on the Liam MacCarthy Cup Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Barry went to college in UCC, and is currently working in Cork. Being based in Leeside helped him steer away from any pre-match talk of Tipperary being suffocated by the pressure of trying to defeat Kilkenny.

“I am lucky enough I work and live in Cork so I actually avoid a lot of hype that goes around matches.

“I don’t see a Tipp flag from one day of the week to the next. I avoided a lot of that.

“It’s grand, you can go for a coffee on a Saturday morning and no-one even knows the match is on, so it helps a small bit.”

And he hopes that claiming the scalp of Kilkenny will stand to Tipperary now.

“It’s a big thing going forward maybe over the next few years to know that if we get to Croke Park, we’re good enough to take it to them. Too many times over the years, we’ve got caught into their game.

“Mick has set his stall out already that he isn’t happy with what we have done so far. He wants us to go on over the next few years and really enforce Tipp’s gameplan on the whole country and show what we are capable of.

“Hopefully the tide has turned towards Tipperary’s favour and we can go on and maybe dominate hurling for the next couple of years.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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