"Everyone is looking for an extra inch": Seamus Callanan on how competitive inter-county panels have become

The 2016 All-Ireland winner says he is also aware that Tipperary have a target on their back heading into the new year

Seamus Callanan, Tipperary, GAA, Hurling

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy 

Tipperary's Seamus Callanan says it's important his county don't rest on their laurels ahead of the new season, well aware that the current All-Ireland champions have a target on their backs.

The Premier County prevailed last September to dethrone Kilkenny and Callanan now says it's imperative that they waste no time on getting ready for the new season. 

"To try and get a place and then keep it within your own respective panel, it's getting increasingly tougher," he told Darren Cleary. "Lads do want to hit the ground running back in January. You want to be back on the first team sheet that's named. 

"If you don't make it, you need to be hungry and ask how I can make it back onto the team. These are all the challenges players are facing early in the year and throughout the year.

"That's the competitive nature of panels now. Everyone is looking for an extra inch."

With the increase in number of teams who will be considered genuine contenders for the All-Ireland this year - Waterford, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Galway - the target will remain firmly on their back.

"Our aims are the same. We have to try and win every game if we can. If we don't win, we learn and we move on. There's a line drawn under 2016. It's a new year and it's a fresh start for everyone. They'll all have their own goals."

The question now for teams who have become successful and have scaled the heights of their respective fields, is whether they can maintain the hunger to continue to win in a relentless fashion. Some teams down the years, most notably Kilkenny, have shown this and Callanan says his team have their eyes fixed firmly on the prize.

"We look at the great Kilkenny teams and what they've done. Every team wants to win the Al-Ireland, that's the goal. It's no different from ourselves. But you have to start off with building blocks along the way. That starts the second weekend in February. That's our only focus at the moment.

"Hopefully we're involved on the first Sunday in September. That's a long way away now. Our mind is on preparation from the league."

They kick off their league campaign against Dublin back in Croke Park next month where they lifted the Liam McCarthy Cup last September. The 28-year-old recalls fond memories of the day.

"Walking around pitchside, it all comes running back. We've had enough disappointing days in Croke Park too, but my freshest memory is of a great day. It's brilliant and we're fortunate enough to have our first league game here against Dublin. 

"It's going to be great to get a trip out around Croke Park so early in the year and so soon after an All-Ireland win."