Canning hails Murphy role in getting best out of Galway
Former Galway hurler Ollie Canning has vivid memories of playing minor hurling for his county. He played in two All-Ireland finals for the Tribesmen and has plenty of advice for the lads lining out in today's final against Waterford.
"It's a big day in Croke Park, a lot of people will be in for the minor final too so the lads have to try and not let the occasion get to them," says Canning.
"They need to keep their composure, relax but still go out to express themselves and perform. The crowd can be overpowering and nerves can set in but once the game starts the nerves disappear."
In 1994, Canning's side won the title beating Cork in the final and it was a day and an experience that he'll never forget.
"There wasn't much expectation on the team in '94. We'd been beaten by Kilkenny the year before when everyone expected us to win. We went in as underdogs against Cork, who had blazed a trail through Munster that year. We were going more in hope than in confidence but it went our way on the day."
Minor hurling in Galway is strong at county level and more often than not the maroon jersey is seen in Croke Park at the business end of the championship. Canning thinks there are a few factors contributing to this.
"There is a good underage structure in Galway and the competitions at under 14, under 16 and minor are very competitive within the county. There is a lot of work being done at these levels in clubs with the volunteers and in schools. Having less games can be an advantage; you have to prepare for a couple of games, not go through a heavy Leinster or Munster championship. We can peak at the end of the season."
And of course Canning credits Mattie Murphy with a lot of Galway's success. He has proven he can produce teams who can get to finals and win them. Murphy, he says, has a way of getting the best out of the players at that age and having training sessions that are enjoyable and of a very high standard ensures success.
Today's finalists, Galway and Waterford, have had very different journeys to the final. Back in April, Waterford lost the Munster quarter-final to Tipperary, but bounced back to beat Clare in a play-off to secure a spot in the semi-final where they saw off Cork after extra-time.
That win set up a clash with Limerick in the provincial final which ended in a draw. They subsequently lost the replay but went on to beat Antrim and Kilkenny to earn a spot in today's decider.
Galway, on the other hand, have only played two games – a nine-point victory over Laois followed by their All-Ireland semi-final win over Limerick.
Galway v Waterford,