Canning's 'red' alert for future of hurling
WHEN Galway were caught by Waterford in the closing stages of last year's All-Ireland quarter-final, some observed that a third game in three weeks had taken its toll on the Tribesmen.
And, after needing two chances to get past a resilient Offaly, Joe Canning admits that a third successive weekend of action is a concern for his side heading into Sunday's Leinster final clash with Kilkenny at Croke Park.
"They were very tough games in the last two weeks, especially when you're coming in to play Kilkenny," said the Portumna star. "You want to be in peak physical condition and you want to be as fresh as possible.
"Obviously that's not going to happen when you are after playing the last two weekends. We've seen it last year when we played Waterford and we got caught after playing three weekends in a row.
"We're hoping this year that that won't happen the same way," said Canning, at the launch of a Supermac's scheme, which gives customers a chance to win GAA county jerseys.
"Some guys are tired enough obviously after two hard, physical games -- especially with the heat over the last two weekends in a row, it took a lot out of the guys."
With an eight-point cushion at half-time during Saturday's replay, the Connacht men looked in control. However, Joe Dooley's men battled back to level matters before Canning and Ger Farragher landed the decisive scores in stoppage time. Canning acknowledged that Galway are far from the finished article.
"There obviously are more question marks that we need to answer and that's always good, you always have to learn things from matches," he said. "It's no good if you don't learn something from a game.
"I think it showed good character as a team, that when they got a run on us and nothing was going right for us anywhere, we managed to pull out all the stops and got the few points to win it in the end."
Galway and Kilkenny clashed in a superb Leinster semi-final in Tullamore last year and Canning rubbished suggestions that the Cats looked rusty during their facile win over Dublin.
"I'd nearly say the opposite. It's a bit scary really. Looking at this time last year, they beat Dublin by six points in a Leinster final and they beat them by 19 points the last day.
"They played a good game, a good tough, physical game against Dublin and they have prepared brilliantly for this final. I think they're looking even better this year than they were in the last couple of years."
Canning defended team-mate David Burke, who was sent off against the Faithful County, and warned authorities against over-sanitising hurling.
"I don't think it's the referees' fault, I think they're being told what to do. If they don't implement what they're told to do then they're going to get a bollocking off whoever is over them.
"But hurling wasn't dirty. Hurling was never dirty. There have been more red cards this year I'd say than in the last five years put together. There has been no dirty stroke to say, 'yeah, he deserves a red card'.
"It's a physical game, it's a contact game at the end of the day, and with the way they're going now it will end up as a game of tiddlywinks in a couple of years' time.
"That's not the referees' fault, it's not the officials' fault; it's the higher people that are telling them what to do."