Colm Callanan remains fit and focused
By Cian O'Connell
Ten years ago Colm Callanan was delighted to accept an invitation into the Galway panel. The Kinvara custodian remains on the inter-county beat, relishing his role as Galway goalkeeper.
Much has changed on and off the field, but Callanan is still enjoying being part of the game, especially now that Galway are classed as serious contenders.
Sunday's tussle with Tipperary marks Galway's third All Ireland SHC Semi-Final in a row, a clear sign of the consistency that has been attained.
"It has, just even looking at it in the last few years, it has been solid enough in that regard," Callanan admits.
"If you look at the Tipp one as well it has been similar enough with the same names cropping up. Its good, the level of consistency is good to have.
"In saying that there is massive competition in places even for people to get into the 26, people are pushing lads on. For lads that were on the bench the last day they are going to be pushing to try to get into the 15."
Galway hurled against Tipperary in the penultimate round also in 2015 and 2016, two memorable and exciting encounters.
"You get to the semi-final stage you are not going to get an easy game, thats not how it works," Callanan says.
"There is a bit of rivalry that has developed in the last few years, especially meeting at the same stage.
"For both teams, we just want to put ourselves in the position to win an All-Ireland final and thats what the next day is all about, regardless of what colour jersey the opposition have on."
During his decade of service with Galway, Callanan has noticed the changes in preparation. "It depends on the week and whats coming up," Callanan states.
"If it wasnt a Championship week, you are probably hitting four with little bits yourself.
"Thats not a bad thing, its good to have something. A day off just probably means you go down to the sea in Kinvara for me, or go to the gym.
"Maybe something like that, or 15 or 20 minutes on the bike or something. But its part and parcel of it.
"You know what you are signing up for when you get into this, you are not going around giving out about it. Its great to be a part of it. I have been long enough doing all that other stuff. While you are there its great."
Galway goalkeeper Colm Callanan.
Running his own gym, Callanan Fit Club, the Galway goalkeeper isn't surprised by the continued development of Kinvara colleague Conor Whelan.
"Yeah he was showing well with the club, there was always good promise in him, and talk about him," Callanan accepts.
"I think I did a little bit with a minor team here and there and thats when I first got to see him up close.
"You knew he was going to be pushing for our senior team that time with the club. He made his debut with us and straightaway, I remember a game against Castlegar and he scored something like 2-8 I think, and maybe 1-5 from play or something like that.
"And he was still minor at the time, which was ridiculous to come up against a seasoned team like Castlegar to do that."
Whelan made an instant impact with the Galway seniors as a teenager in 2015. "We all know what happened then in his first game, His first game for Galway was an All-Ireland quarter-final, his second game was an All-Ireland semi-final and his third game was an All-Ireland final," Callanan recalls. "At 18 years of age he ended up with an All-Star nomination. Its fairly impressive for a young fella isnt it, when you look at it that way.
"I think it goes over peoples head at times what young players are doing. Look at Cork, Waterford and Tipp, its ridiculous what some of these young players are doing, but its part of it now. I think the age profile in a lot of teams has reduced considerably in the last number of years."
In the contemporary game where so much emphasis is placed on puck out strategies and retaining possession there is a seriously physical cut to the Galway attack.
When Callanan joined the Galway panel the maroon forward line was often accused of not being self sufficient enough.
"Maybe, but that always seemed to levelled after playing a team like Kilkenny or something, when you had JJ Delaney, Brian Hogan and Tommy Walsh, and these fellas," Callanan replies.
"You were hitting the ball down on top of them. While that accusation was levelled at us I didnt see too many teams doing much better against them either.
"Maybe, we have got better, I dont know. Its just the players we have at the minute people say Galway have got bigger and stronger, but its just the make up of the team is different."