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Sunday 24 September 2017

Stopping the 'Davy train' is first goal for Callanan

Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps ambassador, Tipperary hurler Seamus Callanan
Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps ambassador, Tipperary hurler Seamus Callanan

For Séamus Callanan, Sunday's Allianz Hurling League semi-final between Tipperary and Wexford is all about "stopping the Davy train".

The Tipperary scoring machine was yesterday back on the Croke Park stage he adorned last September, only this time playing the straight man to Patrick Kielty's comedic interventions at the launch of the Kellogg's GAA Cúl Camps.

But Callanan knows how to deliver a one-liner too - cue his topical reference to Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald, his one-time Fitzgibbon Cup boss at Limerick IT.

"He has had a massive impact. People talk about focuses and long-term goals but all we are thinking about is a performance against Wexford and hopefully beating them and getting to a league final. They have made great strides, their confidence is up," the three-time All Star warns.

"And it's brilliant - another team thrown into the mix for championship. It makes for a great summer of hurling."

From his third-level days under Fitzgerald's command, he isn't surprised by the Clareman's year-one impact on the resurgent Yellowbellies. Even though Callanan's four years at LIT failed to deliver a Fitzgibbon title, he says: "I know what Davy is going to bring to the party ... a lot of honesty; a lot of hard work; a determined, fit team.

Massive

"He has a lot of great players down there at his disposal as well, so this is a massive challenge for us," the Drom & Inch clubman reiterates.

"He brings a massive professionalism.

"His set-up would be top class. He makes sure he has every avenue covered. He is a fantastic trainer and a motivator."

Tipperary have lost three NHL finals (all to Kilkenny) since the county last won the competition nine years ago. Thus, even though there is no mistaking Tipp's primary goal in 2017, they won't be stepping off the gas in Nowlan Park.

"Myself and Darren Gleeson are the only two who have league medals from 2008," Callanan points out. "It is a piece of silverware at the end of the day and you want all the momentum you can get going into championship.

"But you have to get a league final first and our whole focus is on Wexford this Sunday and nothing else. That is the same for every game because, as players, we are all fighting for our positions. We have to perform every day and the championship is a long way away."

No wonder, then, that Callanan isn't overly consumed by loose talk of Tipp finally breaking their 52-year two-in-a-row jinx. Yet he makes it abundantly clear that he's bemused (at best) by two commonly aired themes. Firstly, that Tipp celebrated too long and too hard after lifting Liam MacCarthy in 2010 ...

"Ah sure, every media interview, it is a question that is asked so it is obviously a perception amongst the media," he begins. "But personally, as someone involved in the panel, I fully disagree with that. Look, we lost to Kilkenny - there is no shame in losing to that Kilkenny team over those years.

Untrue

"That happened and it wasn't down to preparation or anything like that - we have a massively committed bunch and anything else you hear outside of that is untrue."

Second theory? The Cats are in decline ...

"They're firmly the team to beat still, in our eyes," Callanan counters. "If anyone inside the country had any doubts about that before they came to Thurles to play us (in a pulsating stalemate last month), that really should have extinguished any doubts that were out there.

"Kilkenny are a fantastic team and if you think for one second that they're gone anywhere, you're just going to get sucker-punched. We know the character of their players ... and they still have Brian Cody at the helm. They're going to be dangerous animals throughout the year."

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