Hurler of the Year Seamus Callanan believes the infusion of the underage All-Ireland winners of the past few seasons will be vital as Tipperary bid to hold on to the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2020.

The Tipperary squad are currently in Mexico on a team holiday and preparations will begin in earnest when they return in their bid to retain the All-Ireland title for the first time since 1965.

The All-Ireland wins at U20 and U21 level over the past two seasons give manager Liam Sheedy options for next season and several of the players off those sides got a taste of senior action when Tipperary brought forward their Co-op Superstores Munsetr Hurling League games against Clare and Limerick last

Callanan, who scored a goal in each of the eight games on their way to winning the All-Ireland, said that holding on to the crown would be a major battle but one which they were going to embrace.

“Very hard to retain it. It is a huge challenge that lies ahead of us. But we will enjoy the challenge of that next year. It is about getting back on the pitch and putting in the hard graft again.

“There are a few of them nice U20 hurlers as well going to come in and challenge everyone as well. It all lifts the competition within the set-up. That is healthy and that is what we want.

Some of them are coming in off the back of U21 and the following year U20 success. They will be a huge lift to us. Just try and get the right mix of experience and youth and I am sure they will have a lot to offer to the panel in all ways.

“They will have learned a lot along their journey of winning as well. You can’t beat that winning feeling and they are well-used to it now,” said the Drom-Inch clubman.

He said that there was a great buzz in the county in the aftermath of winning the All-Ireland and they enjoyed bringing the cup to schools and clubs but they always had an eye on being ready for the new season.

They lost those games in the Munster League to Clare and Limerick and all focus now was on the start of the Allianz League where they will open their campaign at Semple Stadium when Munster champions Limerick visit in a repeat of last summer’s provincial final.

“You need your downtime to rejuvenate yourself and get a bit of energy back into the body,” he told Tipp FM.

“But it is important to keep the body ticking over the winter. The days of coming back in poor shape trying to find fitness, they are gone and long gone.

“Inter-county players now are keeping themselves fairly right all year.

“It is enjoyable and the reward is huge.”

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