Séamus Callanan on the verge of Tipperary scoring history
With 2-4 to his name already, captain goes into Clare clash needing just one more goal
Sunday will mark Tipperary captain Séamus Callanan’s 50th championship appearance for his side, more than anyone else on the panel. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Only Liam Sheedy knows all of the reasons why he chose Séamus Callanan to captain the Tipperary hurling team in 2019, and yet most of them are already becoming perfectly apparent.
At age 30, he’s not just one of most senior players on the panel; a natural leader both from the front, by nature of his position and by example, given his consistency of performances, Callanan is also now poised to break a Tipperary scoring record. It’s as if the captain’s role was simply a glove made to fit.
With 2-4 to his name already this summer, a goal against both Cork and Waterford in the opening two rounds of the Munster hurling championship, Callanan goes into Sunday’s third-round game against Clare in Ennis needing just one more goal to become the highest goal scorer in Tipperary hurling history.
Sunday will also mark Callanan’s 50th championship appearance for Tipp, more than anyone else on the panel; he’s also scored in all but four of his 49 games to date. He’s currently joint top goal scorer alongside Lar Corbett, who reached a grand total of 29 goals and 80 points in his 61 championship appearances for Tipp from 2000-2015.
Callanan has scored 29 goals and 200 points to date, with that already surpassing the goal scoring tallies of Eoin Kelly (21), Nicky English (20) and Jimmy Doyle (18). A three-time All Star, Callanan has also struggled with a back injury in recent times, making his goal-scoring antics of the Drom and Inch player the more impressive.
His latest goal, in the closing minutes of the 2-30 to 0-18 win over Waterford in Thurles last Sunday week, also perfectly demonstrated his natural instincts in front of goal: Jason Forde, who scored Tipp’s first goal, spotted Callanan in space at the far side of the post; a pass and deft flick later, Callanan had directed the ball straight into the Waterford net.
“Yeah, I think when he finds himself in that position, there’s that quality there,” Sheedy said of Callanan’s natural goal-scoring instincts afterwards, the Tipp manager careful not to single out too much praise either. “They are good players. The quality of delivery is really important too. Some of our delivery today was of the highest order and some was not what we’d expect it to be but overall it was very pleasing. It was nice to keep a clean sheet at the same time.
“Ultimately it is not about one player or one unit, it is all about the group and they are putting in a really, really good effort and I couldn’t be happier in terms of their preparation and all we try and do is get that right but these guys deserve great credit for the way they are applying themselves.”
Sunday’s game against Clare will provide the latest test of that: Clare also beat Waterford in their only game so far, and also beat Tipp last year in the round-robin match, 1-23 to 1-21. However Tipp won the previous four, including the 2008 Munster final. That was the same year Callanan made his senior debut for Tipp, scoring 1-3 in that Munster final win.
Sheedy has also spoken about the slightly older age profile of his starting team, the free weekend since the Waterford game no doubt being welcomed: “In fairness to the lads, two weeks back to back is tough . . . the age profile of my lads is, I suppose, when you get to 60/65 minutes your tank of diesel is starting to empty.
“From our point of view, we felt – as a group – it was important to try and deliver back to back performances in this Munster Championship and look, again, it doesn’t guarantee us to get anywhere but it does give us four points on the board.”