Tipperary sharpshooter Seamus Callanan believes that hurling legend Eoin Kelly will be a “huge help” to the county as they look to retain their All-Ireland crown in 2020.
The 2010 All-Ireland winning captain was brought on board by Liam Sheedy last year as free-taking coach but has been officially made part of the backroom team for the 2020 season with Eamon O’Shea appointed as Performance Director.
Speaking at the launch of the Allianz Hurling League, Callanan, who played alongside Kelly in the early days of his career, said that the Mullinahone native commanded the immediate respect of the current crop of players.
“Eoin is fantastic. Any chance you can have someone like Eoin Kelly in your dressing room, it’s brilliant for us all because of the immediate respect he’d have just from being a legend. He’s probably an idol to every single one who’s in the dressing room.
“He’s been a great leader and I’ve got the chance to share the dressing room with him which was an absolute honour and to get to do it again now and to learn from the best can only be a benefit to all of us.”
Callanan joined the illustrious list of Tipperary’s All-Ireland winning captains last year, following in the footsteps of his “idol” Kelly.
He hopes that the forward unit can benefit even more from his knowledge heading into the new season.
“When I was growing up, Eoin was my idol and you just try to copy his game really and try to be like him. In his final year, I’d be practising frees and he’d be behind the goal hitting the ball out, he’s that kind of a humble fella which is great.
“He’s still always there, he’s still always trying to learn and trying to be better. He’s a huge influence on us, he’s a huge positive influence because his leadership skills in the dressing room were incredible in 2010, and in the years before and after that.
“You’re always going to try and pick up little bits of information from him because, well he doesn’t know it all, but he’s been through it all and I just think he’s going to be really valuable for players like myself and even more so for players like Jake Morris, Mark Kehoe, the inside forwards, he’s going to be huge for us.
“We got a few snippets of how good he could be for us last year and now he’s in a full selector role so he can only be a huge help.”
While it is unclear what Eamon O’Shea’s new role will entail, his impact on the Tipperary panel is clear to see with players singing his praises.
Callanan credits the former manager with aiding his prolific hurling career.
“I wouldn’t have half the career I’ve had only for Eamon O’Shea. He’s a huge influence in my life and just to have him in and around the set-up… We’re very privileged to have the complete backroom team that we have.
“It’s great to have Liam involved and he’s set up a backroom team around him that is exceptional. We’re very lucky to be players at this time.”
A nine-week festival of inter-county hurling gets underway on January 25th with the commencement of the Allianz Hurling Leagues. The exciting programme features 116 games across the four divisions in a campaign which will mark the 28th year of Allianz’ partnership with the GAA as sponsor of the Allianz Leagues, making it one of the longest-running sponsorships in Irish sport.