Canning plays it cool and says ‘there is a long way to go yet’

Memory of 2012 disappointment lingers on but the Galway star is quietly optimistic

Joe Canning sees no reason to be brimming with joy. Pausing at the Semple tunnel after a freakish occurrence, hitting more wides than scores, he stalled to sign his name a hundred times before speaking to journalists.

Not many like him out there.

The spectre of that 2012 All-Ireland final, his only Croke Park experience in September despite the greatest hurler of his generation being 26 now, is more annoying than anything else.

"People talk about 2012. We had one good half in the Leinster final.


“Mediocre game in the semi-final and one good half in the first All-Ireland.

“I am kind of sick of people talking about what a great year we had in 2012. We didn’t win an All-Ireland. We got to an All-Ireland final.”

Canning was fated to be matched by Henry Shefflin that day but still famously forced a replay with a clutch free from under the Hogan stand.

But this Galway is not that Galway.

“We are our own team [now], we have a lot of young guys coming on.

“Whelo is only 18, 19 there and he really stood up to it. I don’t think anyone really knew who he was before this.”

First start


Conor Whelan

. Still 18,

Anthony Cunningham

had seen enough to give last year’s minor a first start and Whelan rewarded the Tribesmen with 1-2.

“Conor did well there so yeah, he had the talent,” said Cunningham before adding: “He’ll have to knuckle down and know the next day that some Tipperary corner back will be weighing him up.”

Canning kept the mood downbeat: "Cathal Mannion, Johnny Glynn, these guys are young and need time. Unfortunately we don't get that in Galway.

“It’s only a semi-final. It’s the first time we got to August since 2012. The first time we won a quarter-final since 2005, it’s bonus territory for us really.

“Obviously we demand more of ourselves every day. We are our own worst critics inside in the dressing room, inside in Athenry when we are training week in, week out. Like every other team we are striving to be the best we can be. There is a long way to go yet.”

The beauty of this Canning performance for Galway was his eight wides and just 0-2 from play (He did remind all of his skill with a pointed a sideline cut).

“It’s a team game at the end of the day. Nobody leans on anybody. We lean on ourselves. Individually first and then collectively as a team.

“We need to put pressure on ourselves to perform as individuals first to get our own game right and then come together as a team. If we can do that week in, week out we are not too bad at all.”

More than anything the All-Ireland semi-final is a chance to address last season’s collapse against Tipperary.


“Yeah, I think we were six or seven points up with a few minutes to go. We were very annoyed with ourselves to let that slip last year. We have a chance now again in three weeks time to rectify that.”

On this evidence, maybe Kilkenny and Tipp are not so far ahead of them.

“You’d like to think not. We are not going into a semi-final thinking we won’t win it. When we set out at the start of the year our one aim was to win an All-Ireland. This is the next step on the ladder. Tipp are going to be a huge challenge. Tipp and Kilkenny are the two form teams over the last 10 years. We are going to come prepared well and give it a rattle.”


And what of Jimmy Barry Murphy’s Cork?

“We were accused earlier in the year of having no tactics, then we tried a different system of defensive play. Every game you play you try to assess what’s good for the team and the panel of players available to you. As I said, the lads have given us everything over the last four years, we’ve been competing at the highest level but just fallen short.

“I can’t wait for next year,” added JBM of his third of an agreed four year managerial agreement.

“I believe there’s a great future for the Cork players.”

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent