FOR the most part, inter-county players live in a bubble and it is not until their championship campaign runs its course that they are forced to emerge from the effervesce and endeavour to reintegrate themselves back into civilian life, however briefly.
It can often be a sharp transition, particularly if it’s on the back of a defeat. All of a sudden, life is there waiting for you, tapping its foot impatiently. Players can try to fend it off for a day or two with an end of season blow-out but soon life finds a way to swallow them whole again. The bubble bursts.
When the final whistle sounded against Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final in August of 2016, Galway goalkeeper Colm Callanan didn’t even have the luxury of bracing himself against the despair, anguish and frustration that would inevitably follow a one-point defeat.
For when life choses to throw its punches, it hits a lot harder than the result of a game. “It was a bad day personally for me as 10 minutes after the final whistle I found out that my uncle had passed away 15 minutes before throw-in,” recalls Callanan as he reflects back to last year’s semi-final.
“So, that is the over-riding feeling I have when I look back on that day to be honest with you. Other than that, the match, itself, is a bit of a blur because we were dealing with all that afterwards. It was a case of they getting two goals in quick succession which ultimately put them in the driving seat and they had their noses in front by the time it was up.”
In hurling, as in life, the game can change rapidly and the Kinvara custodian, who made his debut for Galway under Ger Loughnane in 2007, notes that over that 70 minutes the ball had been flying up and down the field so swiftly it was not a surprise there was just a point in it in at the end.
“That was all that separated us. I mean, you could look at that match all day and say ‘ah, it was this, it was that’ but in a game of hurling two attacks can wipe out a six-point lead. It just landed on their side on the day and that was it really. When I think back now though, that (the passing of his uncle) is what comes into my head.”
A death in the family is always difficult to deal with, more so when it is so unexpected and you have been denied the opportunity to say goodbye. The Callanans are also a tight-knit unit, underlined by the distances they will travel to support one another – be it hurling or camogie – or, as he explains himself, helping each other realise their dreams.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.