Canning coy on comeback date

Joe Canning at yesterday’s announcement of more rewards for Bord Gáis Energy Rewards Club customers during the championship season. See bordgaisenergy.ie/my-rewards. Picture: Sportsfile

Joe Canning has no problem findings targets.

The Galway marksman has claimed well over 800 points for Galway alone. Add on his tallies for Portumna and from back in the day with Limerick Institute of Technology and heaven knows where the figure ends. 

He just isn’t setting his sights on any goals for now.

Injured during the Allianz Hurling League semi-final against Waterford at the end of March, he was set a 14-16 week recovery period after the subsequent surgery and he wasn’t for adding any great detail to his progress since when speaking in Dublin yesterday.

“There’s no date in my head. It’s just working with physios week to week. And, whatever they say, that’s it. 

"If I say ‘I’m doing this’ and he doesn’t agree with me, that’s another setback. It’s pointless. So I’m just going from week to week. That’s it.”

He was a reluctant interviewee as long as the conversation lingered on his own well-being.

“A little bit,” he said when asked if the groin had been ripped off the bone. Sore as it was, he was off the crutches and walking within a week.

If the 14-16 weeks forecast is accurate then Canning will be declaring himself available for selection in and around mid-July when the All-Ireland series swings around. Leinster, and the speed dating the round robin involves, will have to get by without his charms.

So be it, he said.

“It’s not as if the lads are taking the field with 14 men. Someone else is just going to come in and do the job that I was doing. 

"That’s the reason we have a panel. That’s the reason we have competition. As we showed in the league, loads of lads put their hands up.

“If you compare our All-Ireland final team from last year to the team that played in the league, we only had maybe five or six guys. 

"So lads are obviously playing well enough to make the team now. There’s good competition.”

All of which is admirably self-effacing but Canning is an enormous loss regardless of any attempts at deflection. 

His form since returning from hamstring injury and nine months recovery in 2017 and all through to late March was exceptional.

His class has been evident since his teenage days but he is 30 now and maybe there isn’t enough made of the manner in which he has adapted and thrived in a game that has evolved at a rate of knots since he first appeared for Galway in the senior ranks.

Hurling was a cake with fewer layers when he made his debut in a league semi-final against Cork at Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds in April of 2008 and he is operating in a position now that is at the hub of the tactical battle given the manner in which sides utilise their centre-backs.

He loves the freedom that comes with the No.11 jersey, not least because of the years spent in closer to goal where space was at an increasing premium, though he agrees with former Waterford manager Derek McGrath who believes that talk of ‘sweepers’ is far too simplistic.

“I laugh at how people perceive tactics in different teams,” said Canning. “I find it funny because being in it is it totally different to how it is perceived in public. 

"Waterford had much more about them than just being a sweeper when Derek was there.

“There is way more complicated stuff. It’s easy to see the pattern of different teams if you delve into it. 

"Everybody has two or three different ways of playing. If you had one way of playing you are really easy to look at and you have to adapt to different situations in different matches.”

All too obvious are the lengths to which teams are going to bring something new to the table and this information ‘arms race’ is manifesting itself in the amount of somewhat left-field additions to various management teams around the country.

Former Munster and New Zealand star Doug Howlett has joined John Meyler’s Cork staff as a performance coach, Dessie Farrell is performing a similar role with Mattie Kenny’s Dubs and Kieran Donaghy is working with the Galway hurlers’ forwards.

Donaghy is no novice at hopping between codes given his time with the Kerry footballers and an impressive basketball career, and his meeting of minds with Micheál O’Donoghue has understandably captured the imagination.

“I don’t know. It’s funny,” said Canning. “People are obsessed with it. ‘What’s he doing?’ I find it very funny, really. I don’t see a big fuss with it. 

"He’s another part of the management team. So, yeah, he’s been there the odd time with his basketball commitments over the past few months.

“But now since he’s finished that he’s up a bit more. As ye all know, he has an infectious personality. He’s won a lot and lost a bit as well. 

"His experience alone and any little bit, even if it’s just one per cent that we can get off him…

“He’s a different voice, a different eye in training. In a group situation, you can think things are going well. 

"But if you have a different perspective on things, it can challenge you and challenge everybody in the group to become better. Which is great for us.”


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