Callanan misses big day but having a ball Down UnderSeptember 6, 2012 - 7:00am
ASKING Galway hurler Aonghus Callanan has he any regrets as he relaxes on a beach in Australia this week calls to mind the infamous story of the waiter who asked the late Georgie Best “where it all went wrong” when he arrived with room service to find the former soccer star in bed with Miss World.
The 27-year old is having the time of his life, surfing, socialising, earning good money as a quantity surveyor, and playing football and hurling during a year out in Sydney which has exceeded his expectations.
While the news from home is regularly full of “doom and gloom”, he looks forward to sunny Saturdays spent surfing on Bondi Beach or joining a host of young Irish revellers on a cruise around Sydney Harbour. Even in the middle of winter, the weather is better than back home.
The Liam Mellows attacker decided to take a year out ‘Down Under’ last November, despite approaches by Anthony Cunningham and his selectors, Mattie Kenny and Tom Helebert, who made it clear he was part of their plans for the Galway senior hurling team in 2012.
When they began a tough conditioning programme back in January, Aonghus was instead training with lads from all over Ireland when he joined the Michael Cusacks GAA Club in Sydney.
He has had a brilliant year with Cusacks. They beat favourites Sydney Shamrocks by 1-25 to 2-16 in the NSW Championship Final just last Sunday, winning the League, Championship, and Central Coast treble for the first time in the history of the club.
Callanan played a big part in all three title successes and controlled the half-forward line on Sunday. Off the field, the club has organised BBQs, boat cruises, and skiing trips which have helped him to make a host of new friends.
He has kept a keen eye on the Galway hurlers’ league and championship campaigns, thanks to a Setanta Sports package costing $20 a month, all year. There may be pangs of regret that he is missing out on the All-Ireland final this week, but he is also having a whale of a time thousands of miles from home.
Last year’s hurling championship ended in the despair of a tame All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Waterford and Callanan just felt it was the right time to make the move ‘Down Under’. He flew out at the end of October.
“I have been involved with county teams since I was 14 or 15 years of age. I felt if I didn’t take this opportunity I would never get the chance. Physically and mentally, I felt it was time for a bit of a change,” he told Tribune Sport this week.
“I had never lived away from Ireland before, because of hurling. Not that I regretted it. I enjoyed it, but I just felt last year that it was the right time to get away.”
He joined fellow Galwegians such as Enda Coen and Brendan Dooley at the Michael Cusacks club as soon as he arrived in Sydney. Given that the Bushypark native also played football for Salthill-Knocknacarra, he also decided to join the Pentrith Gaels.
The GAA, particularly the Michael Cusacks connections, helped him to make new friends and to settle quickly into the hectic social life the young Irish enjoy in the city.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.