Sunday 16 June 2019

Wexford will test Tribesmen's ability to survive without Canning

Galway's Joe Canning. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Galway's Joe Canning. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The last time Wexford played Galway, Davy Fitzgerald admitted to being utterly puzzled by how their two-point half-time lead turned into a 10-point defeat in the second half.

"I'd love to be able to tell you what went wrong, but I don't know. I thought we were well in control. There is no excuse. It has nothing to do with anyone only ourselves," he said as he left Pearse Stadium in mid-March after a 3-21 to 3-11 defeat in the Allianz League quarter-final.

He knew he would be back in Galway 10 weeks later for an even bigger assignment, so there was much to assess.

They was plenty for Micheál Donoghue to consider too. For, while Galway overwhelmed Wexford in the second half, they were frequently disjointed in a first half where they conceded three goals. A week later they looked to be on their way to the league final when they led Waterford by four points after 47 minutes before failing to score for 30 minutes (eight minutes of stoppage time were played).

In the meantime, Waterford had scored seven points. To add to Galway's woes, they lost Joe Canning with a serious injury which is still ruling him out. It was a poor performance by Galway, who weren't exactly fluent against Carlow two weeks ago either.

They won by six points, eight fewer than Kilkenny's winning margin last Sunday. With scoring difference the tie-breaker if teams finish on the same number of points, that could yet prove significant.

Galway's need is much greater than Wexford's tomorrow as they will be 'away' in their last two games against Kilkenny and Dublin, while the Model men will be at home to Carlow and Kilkenny. A win tomorrow would leave Wexford in a great position.

Without Canning, Galway are a far less formidable outfit in attack, while the defence has had its problems too. And it's still not clear who exactly is first-choice goalkeeper.

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This is a game where Galway have to show that the confidence and coherence of 2017 isn't gone for good. It's also a day when new leaders need to emerge, especially in attack. Canning has held that role for more than a decade, allowing others to worry only mainly about their own game.

This is their first major test without Canning, one they must get right if their championship prospects aren't to take a damaging hit.

That fear may spur them to deliver enough power to edge out the visitors.

Irish Independent

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