Tuesday 23 January 2018

Canning to take inspiration from Connacht giant-killing

Joe Canning is hoping to get the chance to lift some silverware after being named as Galway captain for 2014. Canning is pictured at the announcement that Sixmilebridge have won €100,000 through the Liberty insurance GAA club offer
Joe Canning is hoping to get the chance to lift some silverware after being named as Galway captain for 2014. Canning is pictured at the announcement that Sixmilebridge have won €100,000 through the Liberty insurance GAA club offer
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

After the announcement that Joe Canning will lead Galway next year, it's with a wry smile he describes his career as a captain.

"Zero from three," he says, without trying to dress it up. With the Galway minors and U-21s, as well as his club Portumna, he skippered teams that were used to, and expected, success but each time Canning was captain they came up short.

"I haven't had much success at all," he grins.

In 2006, Canning and Galway were chasing three minor All-Irelands in a row but were well beaten by Tipperary in the decider.

Three years later, Galway were on the wrong end of the result against Clare in the U-21 All-Ireland semi-final after a thrilling shoot-out between Canning and Darach Honan. Portumna also handed him the honour, but they didn't get out of Galway.

HESITANCY

He'll get another attempt at it next year, although when Galway manager Anthony Cunningham approached Canning about leading Galway there was some initial hesitancy.

It was less to do with his record as captain and more to do with the responsibility the honour brings. Some counsel from brother Ollie, who also led the Tribesmen, helped to make up his mind.

"I just took a day to think about it and I spoke to Ollie, he had done it a couple of times before," says Canning. "It was just that Fergal (Moore) had been such a great captain. His are some big shoes to fill. There are more experienced fellas than me in the panel.

"But after talking it over, I realised I might never get the chance again so I took it with both hands. It's a great honour and we're looking forward to getting on with the year again."

Canning's circumstances are different now. His college days are behind him and he's taken up a job with Liberty Insurance, who have presented a €10,000 cheque to Clare champions Sixmilebridge to aid their development.

Work also means he has relocated to Dublin, meaning there'll be a considerable commute back to Galway next year for training.

But that can't come quickly enough now. After the success of 2012, it was regularly pointed out that Galway generally endure miserable seasons after reaching an All-Ireland final. That it panned out just that way must have grated.

"It was difficult but that's how it goes," says Canning. "No one knows better than us that we have to do better than we did. But you can't look too much to the past, we're looking to the future now and looking to get better."

He doesn't have to look too far for inspiration. His neighbour John Muldoon is a clubmate and was part of the Connacht rugby side who recorded their historic win over Toulouse in France last weekend.

At any other time, he'd be in the Sportsground for the return fixture on Saturday evening but Ollie's stag do takes precedence.

"It's a pity not to get there but it was a great result and a great performance," Canning says. "John grew up down the road from me in Portumna and he's a great supporter of the club. We try to get out and support him whenever we can."

Muldoon will likely look on next February when Canning and Portumna take on Limerick's Na Piarsaigh in the All-Ireland club semi-final.

"I lived close to where they are based in Cahirdavin in Limerick and they have a very good underage set-up. They have some great young hurlers," he says. "I spoke to Niall Gilligan from Sixmilebridge and he said they have a very good half-back line and that he was really impressed with them when they played.

"I'm looking forward to it. They are probably the new kids on the block, and maybe feel they should have made the All-Ireland final a couple of years ago. That will keep us busy for the next few weeks."

Irish Independent

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