Tribe stopper Callanan not prepared to walk away after rejuvenation
When Colm Callanan was omitted from the Galway hurling squad at the end of 2011 he resigned himself to the probability that, aged 29, his inter-county career was over.
The following season, 2012, Callanan didn't go to any of Galway's championship games as a spectator, choosing instead to watch from a distance.
The only game he was at was the All-Ireland final replay - as a player - after a late call-up following an injury to James Skehill at training on the Friday night beforehand.
Skehill played through the injury and was replaced at half-time by Fergal Flannery, but by the end of the following year Callanan had displaced Skehill and has remained number-one choice for the last four seasons, culminating in All-Ireland success last September.
"I didn't go to any game that year," he reflected at this year's Allianz Hurling League launch.
"I felt I'll just watch whatever games are on TV. I was probably resigned to the fact that inter-county was finished for me so I very much went back to the mode of playing with the club and enjoying a few things that I couldn't do in the years previously, like go out on a Saturday night or go away for weekends," he recalled.
He had his ticket bought for the replay when the call came to provide cover, a call he wasn't expecting to get again but one which has transformed the last five years for him, he accepted.
"When I got a call to say I wasn't going to be involved in 2012. I must have been 29 at the time. James (Skehill) was there, Fergal Flannery - two young goalkeepers. So looking at it I thought, Anthony (Cunningham) is going to be there for however long, three or four years at least anyway. I said to myself, 'my goose is cooked here'.
"Obviously the way I did get in, I didn't wish an injury on James but I was lucky enough to get my foot back in the door and made the most of it."
This winter left him contemplating whether to make himself available again but prior to Christmas, after putting a few domestic arrangements in place, he hitched himself to Galway's effort to defend their league, Leinster and All-Ireland titles.
"Before Christmas I suppose we had a few meetings with management and I was given a bit of leeway to sort things out.
"I was looking at a few business options, I'm self-employed so I only have a couple of sessions done with the team since we came back from the holiday.
"They have a little bit more done so Micheál and the management took that into regard and gave me time to myself to sort out what I was doing.
"It was probably before Christmas I decided I was going to throw my hat in the ring."
But walking away would have been hard, even with the added time constraints.
"A few things came into play but coming off the back of the year we had, it would have been hard. In one sense after the final you are thinking 'this is a great way to leave it', coming off the field at Croke Park having won. The year before against Tipperary, when we lost the semi-final, I was coming off wondering 'is this the last time I am going to play out here?' It's a fine balancing act."
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