Seamus Callanan says winning Hurler of the Year seemed a “distant dream” amid his slow return from back surgery last year. But Callanan, three times nominated for Hurler of the Year between 2014 and 2016, always held out hope he, and Tipp, could return to top form.
“After I got my back surgery, you were always hopeful you’d get back to a level. But you were constantly battling a bit of pain too.
“This time last year, to be back winning an All-Ireland final and to win a Hurler of the Year, it might have seemed a distant dream. It’s great to have done it now. We have seven players who have All-Stars, it’s just been a great year and this tops it off.”
He paid tribute to his fellow All-Star and cruciate-victim Brendan Maher, who spent plenty of time rehabbing with Callanan.
The amount of collective training we do and the amount of individual work you have to do to be even able to train on a night with the collective group is unreal.
“You see Brendan Maher, what he came back from and the shape he had himself in this year, I’ve never seen him in as good a shape after coming back from that injury.
“When you think about the extra hours that people like that had to put in to getting back at a level where they’re even able to play, never mind perform the way he has, it just really puts into perspective the commitment, and the ambition, and hard work that people put in to get there.”
Meanwhile, Meath and Sligo were the biggest winners, with three picks each, in the Champion 15 Team for players in the Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard, and Lory Meagher Cups.
There was a Player of the Year awarded to Laois midfielder Paddy Purcell. Meath forward Jack Regan was recognised as Player of the Year for the Ring Cup, Sligo midfielder Keith Raymond for the Rackard Cup, and Lancashire attacker Ronan Crowley for the Meagher Cup.
S Doherty (Armagh); C Taggart (Down), K Keoghan (Meath), E Moreton (Leitrim); J Weir (Sligo), J Glancy (Leitrim), J Henderson (Wicklow); K Raymond (Sligo), S Geraghty (Meath); J Regan (Meath), G O’Kelly Lynch (Sligo), D Casey (Tyrone); D Sands (Down), R Crowley (Lancashire), S McGuigan (Derry).
Joe McDonagh Cup - Paddy Purcell (Laois); Christy Ring Cup - Jack Regan (Meath); Nicky Rackard Cup - Keith Raymond (Sligo); Lory Meagher Cup - Ronan Crowley (Lancashire).