There's a lot more left in the Tipperary tank, insists Callanan
Published 14/01/2016 | 02:30
There was a time when it looked as if Seamus Callanan's undoubted class wouldn't be witnessed consistently at the highest level, but after two stellar seasons in succession, the 27-year-old now finds himself leading the Tipperary charge.
Following a series of high-profile winter retirements, the Drom-Inch ace is the most experienced player in the Premier ranks. It's a status his performances have already reflected for some time.
Callanan's remarkable scoring feats have lit up the past two hurling summers. At times he has been unmarkable, no more so than last year's heartbreaking semi-final loss to Galway when he finished with 3-9, 3-4 from play.
Having burst onto the scene as a teenager, playing alongside Premier legends like Eoin Kelly and Lar Corbett, this is his ninth inter-county season, but he is adamant that Tipp are not going through a period of transition.
He believes the new will complement the old.
"I think that (transition) is too big a word," he said at the announcement of Allianz Ireland's five-year sponsorship extension of the National Football and Hurling Leagues. "The core of that panel is still really there from 2009 onwards.
"There's a lot more left in the tank as well. Look at Kilkenny, they lost a lot of lads to retirement and they were still able to win the All-Ireland last year, and we've added few fresh faces in there.
"You need fresh faces coming through. It's a different dressing-room in a way to walk into but it's a very positive one so I'm looking forward to seeing what they have to offer."
Callanan "thrives" on responsibility and it's likely that new manager Michael Ryan, who he knows well having worked with under the reigns of Liam Sheedy and Eamon O'Shea, will demand further leadership this season. The free-scoring forward is ready to answer the call.
Ryan has also stressed the need for greater physicality, similar to Kilkenny's approach, but Callanan expects them to find a healthy mix of strength and skill.
"There was criticism last year after the Galway game that we weren't physical enough," he said. "It was a brand of hurling that we played and it was very successful in a lot of ways. A lot of teams couldn't counteract our movement and our skill.
"Michael has brought in a few new players, big and rangy players, You need to be able to mix it as well as having the lovely style of hurling. My own philosophy is speed and movement, and skills take up a massive part of the game.
"Obviously you have to be able to ship tackles as well. I wouldn't say any of our players wouldn't have been able to do that. We were just playing a game where you didn't get in as many hits maybe as other teams."
Tipp come into 2016 with more questions than answers but with Callanan on form, they're a dangerous prospect for everyone.