‘JJ Delaney wasn’t too impresed that Shefflin didn’t go for a goal’ -- Canning
Galway star cranks up All-Ireland replay heat by questioning Shefflin’s penalty decision and Cats’ influence on referee
JOE Canning has made hugely controversial comments about last Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final, questioning Henry's Shefflin's sportsmanship during the epic Galway-Kilkenny battle, which finished level.
In a surprising development, which will send temperatures soaring into the red zone for the replay on September 30, Canning described Kilkenny as being a "bit cuter" when dealing with officials before lobbing in an incendiary comment about Shefflin.
"In one instance in the first half, Henry ran 30 or 40 yards down the field and was giving out to Barry Kelly (referee) and Damien Hayes (Galway player) for a free.
"That's not sportsmanlike either at the same stage. That's the way it goes. That's probably the experience they (Kilkenny) have. Hopefully, we can get that (experience) and use it to our advantage as well. You need everything you can get during those games," said Canning, whose stoppage-time point from a free earned Galway a replay.
In another remark which is certain to provoke reaction -- privately at least -- in the Kilkenny camp, Canning implied that full-back JJ Delaney thought Shefflin should have gone for goal from the penalty awarded in the 67th minute after Galway goalkeeper James Skehill fouled Eoin Larkin.
Shefflin opted to take a point, which was later cancelled out by Canning's free.
"JJ wasn't too impressed anyway behind me! He thought he (Shefflin) should have gone for it as well," said Canning.
"People asked me after what I would have done. I probably would have gone for a point as well because at that time of the game, a point was very crucial.
"If he missed it, people would say 'why didn't he tap it over the bar?' It's a very thin line and he's the most experienced player on the pitch. If (he had gone for goal and) it was saved and we went down the pitch and got a point or a goal, it could have swung things in our favour. He probably took the right decision at that time in the match
"He (Delaney) probably would have gone for it himself. I'll just put it that way!"
Canning, who was speaking in Thurles yesterday at an event to promote the Clare-Kilkenny All-Ireland U-21 hurling final at Semple Stadium on Saturday, said that Kilkenny were handed "very easy frees" but he had no complaints with the performance of the referee.
Canning admitted that he mishit the late free which delivered the precious equaliser, having earlier missed from an easier angle.
His stoppage-time effort from a more acute angle was kept at a low trajectory.
"I didn't mean to hit it that low. There were three Kilkenny players in front of me; it was lucky enough it went over," he said.
He insisted that he couldn't comment on the referee's decision to award the free, adjudging that Galway substitute Davy Glennon had been fouled by Jackie Tyrrell.
"I don't know -- to be straight-up about it I didn't see it. I was in at full-forward. I didn't actually watch the match since," said Canning. "I don't know -- obviously I've read papers and stuff. Some people say it wasn't a free and others say that it was.
"You get stuff during a match as well -- when they (Kilkenny) got a ball moved forward 15 yards and the same thing happened in the second half and it didn't get moved for us. You get those things during a match. I thought, on the field, sometimes they (Kilkenny) influenced frees. So they got very easy frees during the game as well."
Canning admitted that he harboured doubts over whether he would point the equalising free, having missed one a few minutes earlier. He said he would think more about the missed free rather than the score, but that was normal for free-takers.
"Obviously you have doubts and I had massive doubts after missing the one before, but that's part and parcel of it as well," he said.
"That's the one I think of more than the one I scored. But then you never know -- if you'd got the first one you mightn't have got the chance for the second one."
He said he felt under intense pressure to score the late free after the earlier miss.
He trusted his routine, which has been the same for years, to enable him to slot the crucial point.
"That's all I was concentrating on, hoping not to have everyone in Galway after my head afterwards," he said.
Canning admitted that he did not enjoy the experience of a first All-Ireland senior final because of the huge pressures involved.
He said: "I think when you're out on the field, you don't enjoy it. It's not a place to enjoy it -- you enjoy it after the match if you win and obviously you don't enjoy it if you lose. But when you're playing in such a high-intensity game -- mentally more so than anything -- the mistakes and stuff are costing you that extra point or two in a match, you don't enjoy those things.
"And anybody that says it (that they do), I personally don't believe them. It's a thing you look back on and say, yeah, I've played in it. It's like training -- when you're training as hard as you can, you don't enjoy running the laps or anything like that. It's the same as a match -- when it's high intensity, you don't enjoy that."