Seamus Callanan ready to seize the day

Chasing silverware, yes. Chasing records, not so much, but it’s impossible to get away from the latter, such are the impressive tallies he’s been posting of late.

Seamus Callanan ready to seize the day

Chasing silverware, yes. Chasing records, not so much, but it’s impossible to get away from the latter, such are the impressive tallies he’s been posting of late.

The 2018 campaign was a forgettable one for the Tipp hurlers, and for their talisman Séamus Callanan.

Across their four Munster Championship outings, Callanan managed the sum total of five points. Even allowing for the back surgery which kept him out of last year’s league campaign, a 0-5 contribution during the 227 minutes he spent inside the whitewash is way below the standards we have come to expect from the Drom & Inch full-forward.

It is from this vantage point that the contrast to his 2019 endeavours couldn’t be more stark. The 30-year old has found the net in each of their seven championship outings and, in the process, has overtaken Lar Corbett as the highest goalscorer in Tipperary hurling history, moved to third in the GAA’s all-time goalscoring list, and leapfrogged legends like Ring, Rackard, Keher, and Shefflin to become the highest scorer from play in the history of the All-Ireland SHC.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

The 7-16 he’s struck this summer has him top of the 2019 scorers-from-play chart, bringing his total contribution from play since joining the Premier set-up back in 2008 to 34-110 (212).

If he can find the net in Sunday’s decider, as he did in the 2014 final replay, he will move to joint-second, alongside Eddie Keher, on the all-time SHC goalscoring list.

Two goals against Keher’s beloved county and he’ll assume outright second place behind Wexford’s Nicky Rackard.

“When he finds himself in that [goalscoring] position, there’s that quality there,” said Liam Sheedy of Callanan’s penchant for three-pointers after their comfortable win over Waterford in mid-May.

The man himself is keen to bat away talk of records, history-making tallies, and his run of one goal per game in their seven championship outings. “I hope it lasts for another day,” says Callanan of his goalscoring exploits.

Some days it will go in, and some days you could hit five of them and they will go anywhere else bar the goals. You need a bit of luck every day you go out.

There was certainly no luck involved in his ninth-minute pull which whistled past Wexford’s Mark Fanning last time out. With Niall O’Meara’s looping handpass threatening to run away from him, while also having to re-adjust his grip on his hurl, Callanan did superbly well to meet the sliotar so sweetly on the bounce.

“When you’re inside in the full-forward line and you get an opportunity, you want to have a go. Scoring a goal in Croke Park on All-Ireland semi-final day is special. It’s what you train for.

“Putting on the jersey is incredible, but being able to score and contribute when you’re in it — that’s huge.”

And what of claiming the title of Tipperary’s all-time leading goalscorer, a hard-earned feat given the names — Corbett, Kelly, English, and Doyle — directly below him on this list?

“I hear this conversation, but it’s about contributing best to a Tipperary result. Whoever gets the goals, it doesn’t matter. A Tipperary win is all that matters.”

It was Callanan’s 30th championship goal, scored last June, which took him past Corbett and he revealed his former team-mate got in touch to offer his congratulations.

“We’d be great friends. A lot of the goals I’ve scored he’s laid down on a plate for me.”

Has management’s decision to relieve him of free-taking duties contributed to this goal rush? “Whatever job I can do for Tipperary — take the frees, not take the frees — you’d just be glad to do it,” he replies.

This is my 12th season, you’re going down the line of ‘how many years have you left?’ Every opportunity now to be on that pitch is one you really savour, one that you can’t let slip by. So you give everything no matter what you’re asked.

That the Premier County is back involved in hurling’s biggest day flies in the face of pre-championship criticism which stated, in no uncertain terms, that the players who were around during the first coming of Liam Sheedy had too much miles on the clock.

“Well, I was one of them and I thought I was fine, so I wasn’t questioning myself really,” Callanan laughs.

His tone quickly takes on a more serious edge. “You hear all that but, at the end of the day, a lot of the guys that are seemingly over the hill are going to play in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day, so they mustn’t be too bad.

“I’d see in abundance, every single night I go to training, the character and resilience that was shown in the semi-final. I was just glad that everyone else got to see it.”

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