'That really struck me' - Joe Canning reveals the advice from Paul Galvin that helped him to All-Ireland glory
You could forgive Joe Canning if last Sunday's All-Ireland final weighed on him in the build-up more than any other game.
Sure, he had competed in All-Ireland finals before in 2012 and 2015, but the task of slaying the great Kilkenny team was always expected to be too tall an order. Waterford under Derek McGrath are a quality outfit, but like the Tribesmen, had been waiting a long time to get their hands on the Liam MacCarthy Cup before last weekend.
Instead of impacting him negatively, Canning exuded calm last Sunday and was once again a key figure as Galway added the elusive All-Ireland title to the Leinster and National League crowns claimed earlier in 2017.
The victory silenced the critics who said that Canning couldn't deliver on the biggest stage, and the three-time All Star has revealed that a message in the build-up to the game from Kerry legend Paul Galvin helped him keep focused before one of the most anticipated games of his career.
"I didn't really feel too much pressure," Canning said on The Eoghan McDermott Show on 2FM today.
"For some reason, this year felt like it was meant to be. We didn't put a huge emphasis on building it up to be bigger than anything else. Paul Galvin Instagrammed me a message and just said 'treat it like any other game' and that really struck me because guys like that have been through it. It relaxed me a little bit more.
"Waterford would have been one of the last teams we would have wanted to play against because they hadn't won it in so long either. One of us was going to be really sickened after it, so that made it a little bittersweet going into it."
Canning also discussed the emotional post-match scenes that saw him enjoy a tearful embrace with his parents. Another moment that pulled at the heartstrings was when Canning stood beside Tony Keady's family during the trophy presentation, with the 28-year-old admitting that the gesture was more coincidence than design.
"They just came [on the pitch]," Canning said.
"I went down to see mam and dad and then Davy [David Burke] was up getting the cup and myself and Michael [Donoghue] were just chatting and they came and stood to the side of us more than anything. That was nice alright but it also brought you back down to earth in a funny way too. You had sport and we had just won the All-Ireland but you also had the human side, standing beside Margaret and Shannon. It puts things into perspective more than anything."