Canning inspires Galway to see off Waterford in cracker
Galway 2-22 Waterford 2-19
Joe Canning roved deep and drove Galway to a memorable comeback victory over Waterford at Pearse Stadium and into a league semi-final against Limerick in two weeks' time.
Trailing by 10 points at one stage in the second-half after Tom Devine's two goals - which were scored in the space of a minute - Galway looked destined for the challenge match circuit ahead of the Leinster championship.
However, Canning helped his side hit an unanswered 1-7 to close out the game, including a penalty six minutes from the end.
The Portumna man was then sent off for a second yellow card in added-time and limped off the field in some discomfort.
According to his manger Micheál Donoghue, Canning carried a calf issue into the game, but the 1-10 he fired suggests he was in good shape, and the ice strapped to his knee afterwards hints at a different injury issue ahead of their last four clash.
Donoghue was thrilled nonetheless, and he paid tribute to his side's persistence after they got off to a shocking start.
Waterford fired six points before Galway scored at all, and Donoghue was mystified as to the reason.
"We acted out the good, the bad and the ugly. We hadn't a great start and it took us a good bit to get up to the pace," said Donoghue.
"Waterford started really well and the message from us at half-time was that we had created as many scoring opportunities as they had, but theirs went over and ours didn't.
"Waterford are a great team and we're not getting carried away by the win at all today. The boys just showed great heart and great spirit.
"The biggest thing we want out of these players is consistency and work rate.
"We know the qualities they have, it's just to bring that work rate and that workmanlike attitude every day we go out.
"In fairness they stuck to the task. Ten points down, you're wondering where it's going to come from, but the most positive thing from our point of view is that they drove it on themselves on the pitch. It's a testament to them."
In the early stages, especially, it was bewildering how poor Galway were and how slick Waterford looked in comparison.
Galway's first touch was off the mark and they fired a handful of quick wides, while Waterford benefited from the space in the full-back line and some loose marking to score with ease early on.
With Tommy Ryan causing trouble inside, and Stephen Bennett in control further out the field, Waterford raced into a six-point lead, which they transformed into a 0-10 to 0-2 advantage by the 18th minute.
At that point of the game it looked as if a short campaign in Division 1B had had a detrimental effect on Galway, but like they did against Limerick last week they managed to find their feet, with Canning pulling the strings from his deep role.
Galway recovered well after Conor Cooney goaled and they only trailed 0-15 to 1-9 at half-time.
Conor Whelan was back in the team and he was another Galway forward to excel, but at the opposite end Waterford had bright displays from Stephen Roche and DJ Foran, who caused endless trouble.
Devine's brace of goals looked to have given Waterford the win, but Canning's penalty - he also had a penalty saved in the first-half - and points from sub Niall Burke and David Burke saw the Tribesmen power to the win in the closing stages.
"It was a 10-point lead at one stage, so we're disappointed not to win it when you have that and can't close it out," said Déise boss Derek McGrath.
"But overall we're delighted with the effort and the hurling we played. We said we would give fellas a chance who had trained hard in our panel over the last number of years.
"The balance was there, but we didn't know how well it was going to go. To see it going as well as it was going was very heartening going into the summer."
Scorers - Galway: J Canning 1-10 (1-0 pen, 4f); C Cooney 1-0; C Whelan 0-3; A Harte, C Mannion, N Burke 0-2 each; P Mannion, T Monaghan, David Burke 0-1 each. Waterford: M Shanahan 0-6 (4f); T Devine 2-1; S Roche 0-3; T Ryan, DJ Foran, K Moran 0-2 each; Stephen Bennett, S Keating, M O'Brien 0-1 each.
Galway: C Callanan 8; J Hanbury 5, Daithi Burke 7, A Harte 8; P Mannion 7, G McInerney 6, P Killeen 5; A Tuohy 6, J Coen 7; J Cooney 6, J Canning 9, David Burke 8; C Whelan 8, C Cooney 7, C Mannion 7. Subs: T Monaghan 7 for Hanbury (23), N Burke 8 for J Cooney (54), S Maloney 6 for C Cooney (68).
Waterford: I O'Regan 7; K Bennett 6, S McNulty 7, S Fives 6; C Gleeson 6, T de Búrca 6, S Keating 7; K Moran 8, M O'Brien 7; Stephen Bennett 7, S Roche 8, DJ Foran 7; T Ryan 8, M Shanahan 7, T Devine 8. Subs: Shane Bennett 7 for Foran (52), N Connors 6 for Keating (55), M Walsh 6 for O'Brien (58), B O'Halloran 5 for Ryan (59), P Mahony 5 for Roche (61).
Ref - Barry Kelly (Westmeath)