Tuesday 22 August 2017

'We realise that a lot of that is bulls*** really' - Galway king Canning keeping focused

Joe Canning, left, and captain David Burke of Galway celebrate with the cup after the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final match between Galway and Tipperary
Joe Canning, left, and captain David Burke of Galway celebrate with the cup after the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final match between Galway and Tipperary

Michael Verney

Joe Canning has heard a lot of idle talk since bursting onto the inter-county scene with Galway in 2008, so his feet remain firmly on the ground while hurling folk are getting carried away with the Tribesmen's League final demolition of Tipperary.

Perspective is a powerful thing and it's something Canning has developed in spades over time. In his early days in maroon and white it looked like the Portumna ace would single-handedly drag the Tribesmen to the summit, but a number of false dawns have followed.

While he acknowledges that they badly needed silverware after five trophy-less years and the psychological boost that comes with it, their 16-point drubbing of the reigning All-Ireland champions is "not a true reflection on us and it's not a true reflection on Tipperary".

As a result they are no longer waiting in the long grass for Liam MacCarthy success in September and are the team on many people's lips for an All-Ireland win, with three-time Galway All-Ireland-winning boss, and Irish Independent columnist, Cyril Farrell believing "this is the year".

Canning views it as "crazy talk" and insists such lofty expectations will have no effect on Micheál Donoghue's squad as they look to end a 29-year famine for top honours.

"Inside the camp it's the same, we realise that a lot of that is bulls*** really," Canning said at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy #HurlingToTheCore campaign.

"People lose the run of themselves after 70 minutes of a hurling match. You see it last year: I don't think any other team would have beaten Waterford after two semi-finals other than Kilkenny. Then they lose the All-Ireland to Tipperary and everybody writes them off.

"Perspective is lost a lot of the time. I'd rather judge a team on five or six matches rather than one. People can lose the run of themselves, we realise that, certainly the older guys do anyway because we've seen that happen in the past. We won't be thinking that we're better than anyone else anyway."

Joe Canning at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy #HurlingToTheCore campaign at Croke Park. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Joe Canning at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy #HurlingToTheCore campaign at Croke Park. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Much was made of Galway's League final celebrations at the St Thomas' club, home of captain David Burke, in certain quarters but Canning couldn't believe the negative reaction to showing off the Dr Croke Cup.

"A few of the kids wanted to see the cup and that was it. Is it a big deal? I think people are making more of it than they should be. I think it's a bit ridiculous - a national title, if kids want to see the cup, that's what we're there to do," the 28-year-old said.

What are you going to do? Get the cup, put it in the van and not see it for the rest of the year, and not show kids what we've actually achieved and what they want to aspire to? The reaction was a funny one.

"I don't understand that. We're just trying to promote the game. We're amateur players and we're trying to get the next generation to aspire to be the next hurlers and the next players in Galway.

"If we can't go down to a club for 20 minutes to show them the cup and meet some of the youngsters, why are we playing the game?

"Why are we trying to promote the game? Why are we playing in Croke Park? Why are ye writing about the game? I think you need to flip it around a little bit. I think people are a little bit… it's gone a little bit conservative.

"And there's less characters. I don't know if it's just the Irish culture - be negative about everything, don't praise anybody or don't promote anything. Like, you'd swear we went back to Eyre Square and had an open-top bus, like Connacht (rugby) had last year."

As Galway prepare for their Leinster SHC quarter-final showdown with Dublin on May 28, new hurling championship proposals suggest round-robin Leinster and Munster SHC games could take place under such a system if passed, while Galway would finally play Championship games at home - and Canning is "all for it".

"I'd still love to be guaranteed maybe seven, eight games in the Championship season of two weeks on, a week off, that kind of a thing," he said.

"And play it more condensed. Waterford have ten weeks between the League and Championship. It's crazy really.

"We were playing 14 out of 16 weeks coming up to the League final. We'll play maximum six for the rest of the year. Those figures don't stack up."

Irish Independent

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