Canning like a new player for Cunningham after getting nerve back
Anthony Cunningham has credited Joe Canning for making the changes to his game that have helped him regain his nerve.
Canning is often his own harshest critic, but this season he has rediscovered the type of form associated with his first two years as an inter-county player.
Galway manager Cunningham believes he has recovered from a loss of nerve that affected him in 2010 and 2011.
He also highlights his dedication to fitness over the last 10 months.
"When we met with Joe, we stressed with him that we wanted to get him back to his '08 form. The first year that Joe came on, I remember a league semi-final against Cork in Limerick when he was nearly unmarkable.
"But, in recent years, his nerve seemed to go and scores dipped a bit. I don't think it was as a result of any lack of effort from Joe, but if you're a forward and your nerve dips, your finish can dip too. He has really turned it around."
Cunningham is delighted with Canning's application to fitness this year.
"early in the season he put in tremendous work, then he got a couple of injuries that set him back slightly," he said.
"I could ring Joe on a Monday night -- and we might have been training the same night -- there might be some request to do something; or on the following night when you have a night off and Joe would have been training. he'd have been in the gym; he'd have been in a recovery plunge pool. It's the same for all these guys.
"They'll do recovery work or they'll go to yoga or into the lake in Loughrea or the sea water in Salthill. It's huge."
In such a young squad, the onus was on Canning, Damien Hayes, Fergal Moore and Tony Og Regan, among others, to show more leadership and they have delivered for Cunningham. "The amount of work that these guys do (is immense), but it's the same in every county," he said.
"I know some Westmeath footballers and you may say it's not as high (a standard). But I know one or two of them are teachers and on a Monday they'll have a gym session done.
"I'd be amazed to see these guys (Galway players) five or seven years ago. I'd ask them where they were coming from and they'd have done their recovery gym session the day after. You wouldn't get that in a full-time professional set-up."
Cunningham insists that the two best teams this season have reached the final and his contention was always that the team who beats Kilkenny will win the All-Ireland title.
"You always want to play the best," said Cunningham.
"Kilkenny have proven that they are the best, they were the best in the semi-final, we are unbeaten, so it's the top two teams. That's undisputed.
"I said Kilkenny were the team to beat and that whoever beat them would win the All-Ireland.
"They are sportsmen. You would never hear a Kilkenny player say I am this or I am that. They are so humble. Right through our own days of playing, you never met a Kilkenny player who was above his station. They would never be allowed that by their supporters or within the county."
Cunningham explained Galway will not change their match-day routine for Sunday's final and will not travel to Dublin until the morning of the match.
"Guys like to know what time they are arriving in the dressing room, how long is the warm-up, what time the bus is going at.
"We try to keep the routine similar to the first day. It may change slightly but it won't change much."