The View: County quarters take centre stage as Seamie moves stage right
By Noel Dundon
It’s interesting to note that when Seamus Callanan hung up his inter county boots last week he singled out one man as having a special impact on him as a player – Eamon O’Shea. That’s the same Eamon O’Shea that Larry Corbett always namechecks as having the ability to unlock the vault of the mind to the kind of possibilities which exist on the playing field.
Without a doubt, the Kilruane MacDonagh man had something special and the way he had those Tipperary teams humming during the Liam Sheedy era was unreal. Not only did he have the ability to get the best out of the players, he also had the ability to ensure that the players became the best possible version of themselves. That’s a special gift and something each line manager in business would love to have. But, they don’t all have it and it is the same with coaches.
Eamon O’Shea recognised a real talent in Seamus Callanan, but that rock from Drom-Inch still had to undergo the most intense of pressure before transforming into the diamond we all remember. Unlike Padraic Maher and Noel McGrath who got into the Tipperary team and more or less stayed in for a decade and a half, Seamus Callanan had his challenges, his doubters, his difficult days and even his humiliations. What makes him special is that he took all those punches right on the chin and kept getting up. He didn’t lay on the ropes – he moved to the centre of the ring and kept swinging until he landed the knockout blows, forty of them in the form of green flags to be precise.
His glorious scoring feats have gone down in history and he can certainly be termed a bona fide Tipperary hurling legend – a term which is often misplaced when it comes to describing wearers of the jersey. To attain legendary status one has to be elevated above the good to the position of the great. We in Tipperary have many many good ones, but the true greats are less common. Callanan was one of them and history will remember him very fondly.
He will continue to do what he does for Drom-Inch and evidence of his brilliance still emerges when he takes to the field. But, the years have changed the player and his approach, with miles in those legs ensuring the requirement of working the brain more rather than relying on the fleet-footedness of yore.
I was present at a medal presentation evening as Seamie spoke to the All-Ireland winning Tipperary minor hurlers of 2022 in the Templemore Arms. Boy, was he inspirational. He told those young men who were in celebratory mood at the time, that there were people in that room, in their division, and in their county who were gunning for them and were mad to take their place. He spoke of the need to ensure that complacency does not become an enemy; of the need to maintain hunger for the game and for success; and for the need to do all in their power to give themselves the best chance of making it, in what can be a very short inter county hurling career.
Seamie had a great career, but it probably has not ended as he, or any Tipperary supporters, would have wished. Injuries over the last few seasons robbed him of invaluable time on the field of play – we missed him dearly on the pitch, even if his influence was as strong as ever in the dressing room. He will be missed when Liam Cahill brings his charges together for the first time with the turn into winter.
Pat Stakelum, captain of the All-Ireland winning team of 1945 was asked in an interview how he coped with being a sub –his response gave a telling insight into the man. He felt, he said, that he was taking a place on the bench of a younger player who could learn from the experience and bring something to Tipperary in years to come. He had nothing left to learn and could bring little to the team at that stage in his career. So, he left the Tipperary jersey behind – this can be further explored in a new book on Pat which will be launched on Saturday October 7th in Ballycahill Community Hall at 8:00pm. All are welcome.
Perhaps Seamie is of a similar viewpoint – it’s time for youth to have its fling.
Callanan will be in action in Semple Stadium on Sunday as part of that great double header in the county senior hurling quarter finals – Drom-Inch take on Thurles Sarsfields in the second game of the afternoon. The first one sees Toomevara taking on Clonoulty Rossmore in another attractive tie while on Saturday we have Loughmore Castleiney and Roscrea to look forward to. And, the first of the quarters on Friday evening sees Holycross Ballycahill challenge one of the favourites to lift the Dan Breen Cup, Kiladangan in the first under-lights game of the season. Yes, it’s that time of the year when the evenings are fading rapidly, the air is a little cooler and nearly all games are knock-out, thereby bringing an edge to proceedings.
Holycross Balycahill will be featuring in their first county quarter final since 2004 – an indication perhaps that one of the county’s sleeping giants is awakening from slumber following a series of impressive underage victories. Roscrea are in a similar scenario while Tommevara are back at this stage again and hoping to go further along the road. To be frank, all three will do very well to make the last four, but they are certainly moving in the right direction.
The Dan Breen Cup is all to play for and the four matches in Semple Stadium at the weekend will certainly bring great impetus to the championship. With the Premier Intermediate, intermediate and junior campaigns all at the business end too, there is plenty of action to look forward to, not to mention the underage divisional finals which are all running at this time. So, there is no shortage of matches to see – make sure you get out and about to view the action live.By Jonathan Cullen Wed 13th Sep