Callanan reaches every goal to be our king of 2019
After the magical mayhem of 2018, the hurling summer just finished was a mixture of weird and, at times, quite wonderful.
How else do you make sense of a campaign that saw Galway heading permanently west by the middle of June; Limerick losing twice by the same juncture and yet appearing utterly invincible a fortnight later; Kilkenny dismissed as victims-in-waiting against both Cork and Limerick; Patrick Horgan having 3-10 in brackets after his name ... and losing; and, last but not least, a team that loses a Munster final by 12 points winning an All-Ireland final by 14 points against a team that had toppled said Munster final marauders?
You don't. It's called hurling. Too much paralysis by analysis can be bad for you.
With that caveat, some end-of-year ruminations ...
HURLER OF THE YEAR
The arguments for his make-the-sliotar-talk teammate, Noel McGrath, and Kilkenny's metronomic talisman, TJ Reid, are both strong ... but we find the case for Tipperary's captain slightly more compelling.
All bar the final point of his 8-18 haul came from open play. His goal in eight games running is a feat that might never be equalled.
He scored all manner of different goals but aside from the varied repertoire or their importance, his vision to supply that sublime assist for John O'Dywer's game-ending goal revealed a player who instinctively knew the right play and how to execute it.
Special mention for two others in the debate: Ronan Maher and Patrick Horgan.
Can be forgiven the final that passed him by, given the alibi of pre-match illness. Up to that point, he had been immense.
GOAL OF THE YEAR:
Lots of contenders (Reid's game-changer against the Dubs, Horgan's 'on bended knee' against Kilkenny, Callanan's ground stroke of genius against Wexford, O'Dwyer in the final) but our favourite was Dowling's overhead batted finish past Kilkenny's Eoin Murphy. Such quick-thinking audacity; such exquisite technique.
GAME OF THE YEAR
The Tipperary/Wexford semi-final, marginally eclipsing Kilkenny/Limerick the previous evening.
OCCASION OF THE YEAR
Wexford ending their 15-year Leinster famine.
DISPLAY OF THE YEAR
Limerick's Munster final demolition of Tipp. A case of peaking too early?
AMBUSH OF THE YEAR
Laois's day of deliverance against Dublin. The biggest shock in decades, eclipsing Dublin's elimination of Galway and Kilkenny's dethronement of Limerick.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
Only one contender. Take a bow, Liam Sheedy.