JOE CANNING insists he won't feature in Sunday's Allianz HL Division 1A relegation grudge match in Tullamore but he has attempted to stack the pressure on Dublin prior to their crucial O'Connor Park tangle.
Galway's most talented hurler has been absent since the start of February with a shoulder injury and, according to the man himself, Sunday's match falls too soon to make any form of playing contribution – a prognosis shared by selector Tom Helebert earlier this week.
But the Portumna man, billed as Galway's saviour since his meteoric rise to senior prominence in 2008, reckons that as league champions, it is Dublin that carry the dead weight of expectation.
“There will be more pressure on them seeing as they are league champions and fighting a relegation final,” Canning insisted yesterday.
“It's huge for them. I wouldn't like to be in a situation where you're league champions fighting relegation, no matter who you're missing.”
The question of on whom relegation would impact more severely is entirely open to interpretation, but for a county with such traditionally lofty expectations, a chronic lack of continuity and a new, young team and management, it would no doubt prove a major setback.
“I don't know if it would be a disaster,” Canning demurred. “But you want to be in Division 1A playing the best teams to get ready for the championship.
“No disrespect to the other teams. But you have to call a spade a spade. They are the best teams and you want to be playing against them.”
Canning has bad recent memories of facing Dublin in O'Connor Park after last year's ill-fated Leinster semi-final.
The day started with scathing criticism in the media from some of Galway's most fabled recent hurling stock and ended with a six-point defeat to a Dublin team reduced to 14 men for the second half after Ryan O'Dwyer's sending off.
“To be honest, I think it was blown out of proportion,” Canning recalls. “We had more chances than Dublin in the whole match. We just didn't take our chances. People, I don't think realise that. We had a lot of wides that day. If we can improve on that at all, we won't be too far off.
“In a way, us coming into Leinster took the limelight off Dublin.
“It took a small bit of pressure off because people were talking about us and Kilkenny. They have profited from that.”
Tracing formlines is nigh on impossible with regard to Sunday. Galway started the spring by beating Dublin comprehensively in Salthill but endured a couple of pronounced wobbles \[Ian Winterton\]and ended in before a shambolic defeat to Kilkenny in Nowlan Park.
“The Kilkenny game was a total disaster for us,” Canning candidly admits. You have to be straight up about it. It was embarrassing for us to be beaten by so much but Kilkenny will do that to you.
“They did it to Cork and Tipperary a couple of years ago as well.
“They can do that to you on a day. That's why they're as good as they are. That's the way it goes. You have to take it on the chin.”
That, in turn, has led to renewed murmurs of criticism but after four years on the senior scene, Canning is already fully adjusted to the foibles of Galway hurling.
“I would be a believer that everybody has their own point of view. The 30 or 40 guys who are involved with Galway are the only guys who know what's happening day in, day out.
“You hope it (won't take a number of years for the new players and management to peak) but to be realistic about it, it could be. Having said that, we're trying to win every game we play. Only time will tell how good we are.”
Canning adds: “It's making paper headlines that we weren't performing. But it's one bad day at the office and everything is gone again. It's a new panel, new management.
“We're young but people don't realise just how young we are and how inexperienced we are at senior level.
“It's going to take time. We know that ourselves. You have to take the good with the bad.”