Callanan: Tipp back in chasing pack with point to prove in 2019
Seamus Callanan scoffs at the notion that Tipperary are second-favourites for next year's All-Ireland SHC crown, insisting the Premier have a lot to prove "back in the chasing pack" striving to catch Limerick.
Liam Sheedy's shock appointment as Tipp supremo sent reverberations of optimism around the county given his role as manager with the 2010 All-Ireland-winning side, but ace attacker Callanan is quick to pour a dose of realism on those lofty expectations.
Only 2017 champions Galway (3/1) stand ahead of Tipp (9/2) in the pecking order, according to the bookmakers, and while Sheedy is "a great man to have back there", Callanan knows a magic wand can't be waved after a disastrous season which resulted in Michael Ryan's exit after three years at the helm.
"We didn't get a win in any of the four championship games so we can't be disappointed. You'd be disappointed not to progress but when you don't win one game you just have to say you'll give it a go again next year," the Drom-Inch ace said.
"I didn't realise we were (second-favourites) - going on last year's results I wouldn't see why. We really have to start from where we're at, back in the chasing pack.
"Limerick are All-Ireland champions and the likes of Galway, Kilkenny, Cork, Waterford and Clare, they're all ahead of us. You have to start where you are and work as hard as you can, and see where that takes you.
"Last year was tough and we didn't prevail so our year was cut short but it's a results business and we didn't get through, so we've to use that to drive us next year. We're all back to the start now."
A second-half league final collapse yp Kilkenny followed by an early exit after the Munster SH round-robin has left Callanan and Co "raring to get going again" and they don't have to wait long with their season-opener tomorrow night.
An early chance to test themselves against All-Ireland champions Limerick awaits in the Co-Op Superstores Munster League with a host of this year's All-Ireland U-21 winners expected to be in the mix.
Three-time All-Star Callanan knows underage triumph doesn't guarantee senior success, however.
"Because we won an U-21 All-Ireland this year, that doesn't mean we're entitled to win anything next year. You have to build it brick by brick and bring some of those guys through."
After being hampered by a back injury for much of 2018, the 30-year-old starts the new season with a clean bill of health and he's keen to get going: "We're gone so long that we're mad to take any opportunity to get back on the road. Playing the All-Ireland champions is a great game to have so early in the year."