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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 19 December, 2018
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How Seamus Callanan delivered on his potential to become Tipperary's main man

This was Callanan’s first All-Ireland title as a starter in the Premier attack.

SEAMUS CALLANAN FINALLY did it.

The Tipperary sharpshooter delivered the Liam MacCarthy Cup back to the Premier County as a established starter for the first time in his career.

Seamus Callanan takes a moment on the field after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The 27-year-old lifted the All-Ireland with Tipp back in 2010, but this time it’s different. This time he’s the focal point of their attack.

“This is a special one,” Callanan confirmed after the game.

The Drom-Inch forward carved up Kilkenny’s defence, putting up 0-13 points, including nine from play. It was the type of performance we always knew Callanan had in him.

After helping the Premier to September glory in 2010, he struggled for form and consistency over the following years and failed to nail down a spot in Tipp’s attack. But the past three years have seen Callanan deliver on his immense potential.

His impact couldn’t have been greater on Sunday.

“You have your own goals and aspirations as a player,” Callanan continued. “There is no one inside this panel that has a goal of being a sub for Tipperary.

“When you get a chance, you owe it to the family that is Tipperary. Being established on the team is good for myself. I put in a lot of hard work outside of the training as I am sure every player does.”

He was nominated for Hurler of the Year in 2014 and 2015. After a slow start to a year hampered by injury that honour looks to be coming his way in November.

But, as Callanan himself would tell you, it’s all about the Liam MacCarthy. Tipp managed to exorcised the demons of All-Ireland defeats to Kilkenny in 2011 and 2014.

“I am part of the panel who had been around for a while that has suffered a lot of defeats to Kilkenny. As Mick [Ryan] said, you can’t carry that as baggage.

“Today was a new day and we didn’t carry it as baggage. At the same time, it was time enough for us to start inflicting the hurt on other teams.”

Callanan assessed what went right for him on a personal level over the last few years.

“I made a nice bit of an impact in 2008 and 2009 as well in my first couple of years. I was nominated for an All-Star those two years. So it’s not as if this just came out of the blue three years ago. Look, you’ll have dips in form, you’ll have different management.

“Eamon O’Shea came in and showed massive belief in me as a person and as a player. He gave me responsibility.  He gave me a licence to be myself on a pitch whereas maybe I was feeling restrained before.

“It’s all about growing and developing as a player and that happens with experience and years on the panel. I suppose I’m just in the peak of my career, I’m 28 in two weeks, so I’d like to think there are a few good years left in me.

“That kind of happens players, not every player lights it up every year. You have to experience a bit of time on the bench like TJ Reid and Richie Hogan, Hurlers of the Year, they have done their time on the bench for Kilkenny and now become the leaders. Everybody goes through that patch.”

In his sixth senior All-Ireland final with Tipperary (including the replay in ’14), Callanan has his second Celtic Cross. The full-forward spoke about the pain of previous defeats on the big day and how this group were determined not to let those define them.

“Losing is hard to take. Everyone has their goal and when you don’t achieve them it is very hard to take, but there was never a second when one person inside in that Tipperary dressing-room ever thought it’s time to throw it all away or ‘I don’t want to go again.’

“Everybody wanted another chance, redemption, to fulfill aspirations that we would have from each other. We see the work that goes in every year, so my god we are not going to let each other down and give up on something that is our dream. No way, not for anybody.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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