Hurling and camogie

Tipp hotshot Seamus Callanan has to get Hurler of the Year award says team-mate Brendan Maher

Tipperary's Brendan Maher believes Seamus Callanan should be named Hurler of the Year for his performances in the blue and gold. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

THERE are two Tipperary players heading the betting for Hurler of the Year following Sunday’s All-Ireland title success, but Premier star Brendan Maher has backed free-scoring forward Seamus Callanan to take the top award.

Noel McGrath edged ahead with the bookies following a superb display as Kilkenny were taken down, with team-mate Callanan just in behind.

TJ Reid had led the way going into the weekend after a magnificent summer with the Cats, but Maher believes it is Callanan who should get the cream.

The Drom-Inch sharpshooter had scored a goal in every Championship outing before Sunday, and was on hand to scoop Tipperary’s crucial second goal to the net just after half-time to take his remarkable run to eight games.

“Ah sure it’s unbelievable,” said Maher.

“I’d say it’ll be a while before we see it happen again. He has to get it [the Hurler of the Year award]. It’s not our decision, the lads will put up the three players and then the players will vote and then you don’t know.

“Outside of that it’s outside of your control, but I do think he deserves it.”

Callanan was nominated for the Hurler of the Year award in 2015 and 2016, losing out to TJ Reid in 2015.

And Maher did his best to ensure Reid doesn’t repeat that success by limiting his involvement to an extent – although the Ballyhale Shamrocks ace still showcased his class on several occasions.

Reid was just the latest big name Maher had been asked to shackle this summer after marking the likes of Aaron Gillane, Tony Kelly and Austin Gleeson, and he admits he had adopt a caution-first approach on Sunday.

“That’s the role I’ve been given this year. I kinda knew for the last 10 days or two weeks so I was able to get myself ready for it.

“It just requires a bit of discipline I suppose – you’d be anxious to nearly leave him sometimes to go and get the ball but you just have to stick with him. Obviously he’s top class.

“I’ve really enjoyed this year, apart from the disappointment of the Munster final. We’ve hurled some great stuff this year – you take each year as it is and, in the next few days when everything settles down, you’ll start to think back on what you’ve achieved.

“We’re just enjoying the moment now.”

And the scenes at the final whistle showed exactly what it meant to claim the scalp of their biggest rivals on such a stage.

“I was under pressure with lads hitting me, I could hardly catch my breath. It was nearly worse than during the game,” said Maher with a smile.

“Ah no it was brilliant like, just elation from everyone, you’re all over the place, jumping into lads and you don’t really know what you’re at – you’re probably meeting the same lad three or four times!”

It was some turnaround for a Tipperary team who were a clear second best when beaten by Limerick in the Munster final just six short weeks ago.

But it is also a world away from the pain of this time last year when Tipp were coming off a disastrous 2018, while Maher was working his way back the cruciate ligament nightmare that prematurely curtailed his campaign.

“When you get back hurling, you just forget about where you’ve come from,” he said.

“This time last year I was probably lying on the couch, post surgery. I wasn’t even back in the gym at this stage I’d say, so it’s great when you put it into perspective.

“It’s a serious turnaround.”

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