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Callanan hails Sheedy's nous as final date looms

 

Fired up: Liam Sheedy is primed for Kilkenny test
Fired up: Liam Sheedy is primed for Kilkenny test
John Campbell

By John Campbell

When Liam Sheedy brought his characteristic energy and drive into play while acting in an advisory capacity with the Antrim hurling team last year, he proved an inspiration.

The man who masterminded Tipperary's All-Ireland triumph in 2010 brings an infectious enthusiasm to the table that even opponents are prone to admire.

But while Sheedy certainly made an impact with the Saffrons, his influence both as a motivator and master tactician will be required when the Tipperary side that he currently manages faces Kilkenny in Sunday's All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final at Croke Park.

Having overcome Wexford in the semi-final, Tipperary will go into the decider buoyed by a championship surge and bolstered by considerable experience and skill.

But in Kilkenny they will be meeting a born-again team that have responded to the promptings of legendary manager Brian Cody to such an extent that they are chomping at the bit to test their credentials against a county that has already won 11 All-Ireland titles under Cody's baton.

No wonder Tipperary captain Seamus Callanan tends to pin his faith in Sheedy's forceful personality and vibrant outlook, describing him as "an unbelievable manager."

The fact that the Munster side find themselves in the favourites' role means, if anything, that they will be even more on guard according to Callanan.

"When you are playing Kilkenny in an All-Ireland final you just know that tradition and history are on their side and that's even before you look at their skills and attitude," says the long-serving Callanan.

The Tipperary skipper has notched a staggering 7-16 for his team so far this summer but still gives credit to the irrepressible Sheedy for the team's progress.

"Liam is just a bundle of energy. He gives you one hundred and ten per cent every night at training every night, there are no half-measures" Callanan maintains. "He probably does as much running at training as any of us if the truth be told.

"Those of us who were involved in the team along with Liam in 2010 are all a bit different to what we were then but you have to consider that the game has changed too.

"It has evolved so much that you have to be on your best form just to compete never mind win. A lot of factors have changed and obviously the pressure has been racked up but, from our perspective, it's great to be in a final and now that we have got this far we want to do ourselves justice."

While Callanan has been in free-scoring form, TJ Reid has been hitting the high spots with Kilkenny and will represent a huge barrier to Sheedy's hopes of his second All-Ireland title.

Colin Fennelly, Adrian Mullen and Walter Walsh are all in top form right now but Tipperary are not short on talent either.

While Callanan is very much at the epicentre of their attack, Jason Forde has been inspirational while Noel McGrath has also been to the fore.

The Tipperary defence in which Brendan Maher is a key figure is likely to be stretched to the limit by a Kilkenny attack which combines power and pace. While the ingredients are there for a thriller, Kilkenny's staying power may prove decisive.

Tipperary

Kilkenny

All-Ireland SHC Final:

Croke Park, Sunday, 3.30pm

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