Tipperary hurling captain Seamus Callanan (centre) with manager Liam Sheedy and vice-captain Noel McGrath
Recently-appointed Tipperary hurling captain Seamus Callanan looks ahead to the remainder of the National Hurling League, starting with Sunday’s trip to Wexford Park to play Davy Fitzgerald’s team, and the serious business of the championship -
Q - Your last league game against Limerick (which ended in defeat) was a tough outing?
A - Yeah, it definitely was a tough outing, you were playing against the All-Ireland champions in their home pitch, it’s always a tough outing. That’s just the league, you will have ups and downs through it and when you're working hard, and trying to put a block of work through it as well it’s hard to have the performance at such a high level maybe every week, and it provides a challenge too.
Wexford are next on the horizon (this Sunday), and that won’t be simple in Wexford Park?
Wexford Park is a very hard place to go, and Wexford are really going well. I saw their game against Cork (which they won), and they’re showing really well. It's going to be a tough challenge again, but it’s great to get those challenges at this stage of the year to see where you’re at, and trying to progress from it.
What has Liam Sheedy brought to the group since his return as manager?
Liam had great success the last time he was with Tipperary, he’s obviously after seeing something in us as well that made him want to come back again, so it’s great to have him back involved. He’s coming back into a great bunch as well, with the U-21s who came through after winning last year’s All-Ireland Final. It's a great hard working group there at the moment, with hopefully good things to come.
You are working very hard at this stage of the season, according to Liam Sheedy?
Absolutely, it’s great to get a good pre-season in there as well. It’s important to give you a good platform to build the year on.
Do you see a different Liam Sheedy since his last spell as manager ended in 2010?
He’s demanding the same work ethic as he did back then. He has also got on very well in his work and has moved himself up the ranks, so I’m sure he has learned things along the way in his life, as much as the players have in their lives, and experiences throughout those years.
Hopefully we can really push on this year and do something. First and foremost it’s (a case of) getting back into the top six, and we’re in the hunting pack at the moment, so it’s to try and get consistent performances to try and get back into the top six.
How is your own health and fitness, you had a back operation last year, how have you been since then?
It’s up and down. You’re working hard at the moment, obviously that takes its toll on everyone’s body, but if there are any niggling injuries you feel them a little bit more.
At the moment it (the back) is good, thank God. Last year I was playing a bit of catch-up to try and get back in for the championship, but I have a good pre-season behind me now. Before I start worrying about performances, being able to train every night is brilliant.
How frustrating was last year for you, the effort was there but you knew the body wasn’t able to give 100% like you had given for the previous few years?
It’s frustrating but everyone gets injured, and you just have to deal with the hand you’re dealt. You just have to try and make the most of it. Unfortunately I only had a few weeks before the championship to start my preparation. All you can do is deal with that as best you can and try and push on as much as you can in those weeks to try and be ready if you do get the call to help out the panel.
It was your first major injury, psychologically how did you deal with that in terms of trying to get back on the field?
I had small breaks here and there, but that was the first major injury. It’s disappointing when it happens, and I had to undergo surgery, but straight away after the surgery I was in recovery mode. And it was a case of how am I going to fast-track this to get back on the pitch. That’s where you want to be. You want to be in training every night, you want to be competitive, you want to be playing on the big days in the summer.
That had to change straight away, you can’t feel sorry for yourself, that has to be your goal straight away. It’s a week-by-week process until you can actually get back on the pitch, and creating your own little challenges along the way. That was my motivation.
How frustrating was it for you and the other Tipp players to watch the championship continue without you last year (after their season ended on June 10)? Was it a great motivator coming into this season?
Definitely, it was a strange experience. It was probably our first summer holiday in a long time, and watching matches out foreign (on television) or whatever. It was a very strange experience! But then coming back to the club scene, and getting involved with Drom/Inch, we were coming back training with the lads. They would pull you back in and get you involved in that set-up again. Then you have a new focus again and you try and drive on as best you can.
Obviously it does hurt when you’re watching the (inter-county) championship games and you really want to be in the big stadia, participating in it.
But that’s sport, it’s a results-driven business and someone is going to lose out. Unfortunately it was us.
Being appointed captain this year must have been a massive honour, no one from Drom/Inch has ever served as captain?
It’s a huge honour. It’s brilliant for my family and my club. It’s great but there has to be leaders all over the dressing room, which there is, and which is going to make it easy, really. You just take it in your stride, it’s a great opportunity to captain the team in my 11th season. It’s brilliant, I was absolutely delighted and honoured to get the opportunity.
Do you find that the young players coming into the panel are invigorating the whole set-up?
Definitely, you can see the goal against Clare where Jake Morris gave it to Robert Byrne and it came back out to me, so the younger lads were doing the work to get the ball back to me. It’s great and they’ve slotted in really well. They really are honest and hard working young lads, and that gives us a great lift as well. The core of the group that has been there for a long time are getting really energised and really challenged by the younger group so it’s brilliant, it’s a great mix.
The work that Brendan Maher has done to reach a stage where he’s almost back with the panel, does that give you all a boost and show the younger lads too what has to be done to get back after a setback?
Absolutely, it’s a credit to Brendan’s attitude, he’s nearly back in action (following a cruciate ligament injury sustained in last year’s final championship game against Clare on June 10).
Brendan is a real professional, it’s unbelievable, you can really see the strength in his body even more so than he had before.
It just goes to show the dedication he has put into his recovery, and that’s inspiring for any young player. They'll get a great lift from that.
For more Tipperary sport read Draws made for Tipperary county hurling and football championships