Colm Callanan astounded by rate of Conor Whelan’s progress
Two Kinvara men have important roles as favourites Galway try to topple Tipperary
Galway’s Colm Callanan: It’s ridiculous what these young players are doing, but it’s part of it now. The age profile in a lot of teams has reduced in the last number of years”
The two Kinvara clubmen will have important roles on opposite ends of the pitch on Sunday when Galway bid to topple Tipperary in an All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final.
Whelan (20) burst on to the scene in 2015 when he hit 1-2 against Cork on his Championship debut in the All-Ireland quarter-final at Semple Stadium, and Callanan could not believe how quickly he bedded in.
“I did a little bit with a minor team in Kinvara, and that’s when I first got to see him up close, and you knew he would be pushing on,” said Callanan.
“His made his debut for us at senior, and I remember a game against Castlegar where he scored something like 2-8, with 1-5 from play. He was still minor team at the time, so it was ridiculous to come up against a seasoned team like Castlegar and do that.
“We all know what happened next when his first Galway senior game was an All-Ireland quarter-final, his second was a semi-final and third was an All-Ireland final. At 18 he ended up with an All-Star nomination which is fairly impressive.
“He’s still a young lad, still under 21, and to be doing what he is doing. It goes over people’s heads at times what young players do. Cork, Waterford and Tipp have a few. It’s ridiculous what these young players are doing, but it’s part of it now. The age profile in a lot of teams has reduced in the last number of years.”
Galway come into Sunday’s final-four clash as favourites having beaten Tipperary by 16 points in the League final.
Last year Callanan conceded two late goals against Tipperary, and Galway fell at the penultimate stage, but he remembers the day for very different reasons.
“It was a bad day personally because 10 minutes after the final whistle I found out my uncle had passed away 15 minutes before throw-in, so that was the overriding feeling when I look back at that day.
Bit of a blur
“The match itself is a bit of a blur because of dealing with all of that afterwards. It was a case of they got two goals in quick succession that put them in the driving seat.
“When you look at that game, and the game before, for 70 minutes of hurling ball flying up and down the field, score one side, score down the other. And still there’s just a point in it, that’s all that separated us.
“You could look at it all day, but in two attacks you can wipe out a six-point lead and things land on their side on the day. Last year won’t be mentioned at all. It’s just what’s in front of us this year, and August 6th is all that will matter.”