Why this young pedigree breeder swapped his wellies for football boots
Until this year Niall Canning was used to spending summers presenting his family’s award-winning cattle at agricultural shows all over the country, but this year he swapped his beloved wellies for football boots to take part in Tg4’s Underdogs series.
Since 2009, the renowned Sagesse Charolais pedigree herd, which he runs with his father Brendan, has won an All-Ireland each year.
However, when Niall got the call to take part in the series, the family made the decision to sell their bull Sagesse Nigel so Niall could dedicate his time to the programme.
“I went to a trial match in Trim with Dad. I had no expectations but all of a sudden you’re thrown in to a pitch and Paul Galvin is beside you, shouting at you. It was a really surreal moment for me,” says the Drumcliffe/Rosses club player.
“Selector Ray Silke told us that this was a chance of a lifetime and that really resonated with me. I knew that there would hopefully always be cattle shows but that I would have to grab this opportunity with both hands and put cattle in the back seat for a while.”
Every week the team were put through their paces on the pitch, but the toughest week for Niall was when he was put up for elimination following an army training session in the Curragh.
“I found that very tough but looking back it was probably the best training I ever got. There was also a time when I didn’t get on and I just said to myself ‘look Niall you can either walk away from this or pick yourself up and work hard’ and that’s what I did.
“I was lucky enough to be handed the No 12 jersey by Paul Galvin to play against Dublin in Parnell Park which was unbelievable,” he says.