Canning dismisses talk of Cats power on wane
OFFALY'S brave performance against Kilkenny might have been interpreted as offering hope to the rest of hurling's hopefuls.
Ollie Baker's side defied pre-match predictions to produce a battling performance in Tullamore last Sunday. They led at half-time and blasted four goals past the Cats over the 70 minutes. They also prevented Kilkenny from raising a green flag.
A sign that Kilkenny are fallible? Galway's Joe Canning , pictured right with Donegal's Neil McGee at the launch of the GAA's campaign to encourage members to speak whatever Irish they know, saw it differently.
"I don't see where people are getting that from. Kilkenny managed 26 scores to Offaly's 13 and were basically in second gear. The four goals? One hit off a post, one was hit from around 25 yards out, one was just a high ball... they don't happen very often and it was just one of those days.
"I wouldn't read much into any of the negative things that are said about conceding four goals.
"At the end of the day, it's scary to think what they might score when they get up to top gear."
Kilkenny still have to get by the winners of Saturday's replay between Dublin and Wexford, but most pundits are already looking forward to them playing Galway in the Leinster final – assuming, of course, that the Tribesmen first negotiate their way past a resurgent Laois on Sunday.
Galway hit 5-22 when the sides last met in the championship in 2009, but taking things for granted isn't in Canning's nature.
Last year was the first time he hurled as a senior for Galway in August and they haven't had a competitive game since the league semi-final defeat to the Cats on April 21. That's made for a fallow eight-week period.
"It's a long time since the league semi-final and we've had club championship over the last couple of weeks as well. We're just hoping that we have prepared in the right way and that we'll get a performance on Sunday.
"Laois have two championship matches won and they have everyone they want hurling with them this year.
"Compare that to years before when they didn't have guys due to football, injuries and stuff. They have a half-forward line there as good as any in the country. Zane Keenan and Willie Hyland, they're two forwards that would make most other teams.
"We've targeted this game; we're not interested in thinking about the Leinster final. It's the semi-final on Sunday and that's all we can think about.
"If you look at Carlow and Dublin the other night in the U-21, Carlow beat them and nobody would have expected it. You have to be ready to give a performance on Sunday first and foremost."
How Canning will be deployed will be watched with interest.
County and club team-mate Damien Hayes insisted this week that he's best utilised at the edge of the square, but Canning enjoys the roving commission manager Anthony Cunningham has given him.
"It's frustrating when you're in the full-forward line, as anyone in the full-forward line will tell you, when the ball isn't coming in," he said.
You like to get on it the whole time but some games are different because you don't get it. Other games, you could get 10, 20 balls in. It's just different every day you go out.
"In some games it's funny because you could do all the running and go around like a headless chicken, but the ball bypasses you.
"No, it doesn't bother me where I play. Everyone has to get on the ball and it's about a team performance."