Splitting the Posts: Canning finds scrutiny funny
11:45, 13 Apr 2012
There is a great quote of Oscar Wilde’s: “And he goes through life, his mouth open, and his mind closed.” When Joe Canning was asked about Conor Hayes’ criticism of the 2012 Galway side, the Portumna man didn’t loosen the buttons of his lips too much.
“That’s his opinion and fair enough if that’s what he thinks,” says Canning.
It’s been a tough year for followers of the Tribe, but perhaps only ostensibly so as the Kilkenny hiding (3-26 to 0-10) betrayed what might otherwise be considered one of progress. The youth and young manhood of the likes of Niall Burke and Conor Cooney had Galway in a strong position to reach a league semi-final, all without marquee player Canning.
A few days before the house of cards came tumbling down in Nowlan Park, a star player from another county - while not directly referring to the Tribe - signposted the sort of issues that can hinder such a large injection of fresh blood. “It’s alright if you have two or three young lads coming in, but four or five…” he said, shaking his head, “that’s too many.”
The baby is still hanging on after the bathwater has been thrown out, but Galway’s policy has hit its first massive stumbling block. Does Canning think it’s a system where, as in Dublin, the youth can quickly stand up and be counted?
“I think we have to bring on the Under-21 lads because we don’t have… because that’s who’s on the panel,” Canning says. “I don’t like looking at other counties and copying them. We have to concentrate on what we want to do ourselves and what we want to achieve.
“That’s what Dublin do and that’s fine, they’ve been successful last year and you don’t know in years to come. We’ll just concentrate on ourselves and try to progress ourselves.”
The very suggestion that Dublin are ahead of Galway in the order of power seems to rankle with the Portumna man, and his nod to how things might be in the future infers the Dubs might not have done enough in the past to be higher on the food chain.
Of course there is some truth to this. In the last couple of years, Dublin have lost to Antrim and were well beaten by Kilkenny in last year’s Leinster final. For their part, Galway too can claim provincial finals and a league title in the last couple of years. That the lows are so punctuated - the Kilkenny beating, a 10-point loss to Waterford last year - perhaps skews reality. But do these humblings - including the Under-21 All-Ireland final in 2010 by 25 points from which a portion of today’s panel is taken - represent a fragility in the Galway psyche?
“I don’t think so. If you look at any team - like Waterford last year got hammered by Tipperary and then got to an All-Ireland semi-final. If you look at Kilkenny, Kilkenny have dished out beatings to all the top teams in the last couple of years. Even Tipperary beat them two years ago and Dublin beat them in the league last year. That happens to every team. It just seems to happen to us a small bit more. That’s just life and that’s the way it is.
“Everybody looks at us because we have so much success at underage level and it’s a lot easier pick on us then because we’re not successful at senior level. It’s just over-elaborated, I think, a small bit.”
Damien Hayes had warned of Galway’s slow starts a couple of days before the Kilkenny game and again it was in evidence. “Just mistakes that we made cost us against Kilkenny,” says Canning. “They got the three goals after a couple of minutes and they were kind of our own fault in a way. We failed to rise balls and stuff like that but lads held their hand up and were accounted for.
“Hopefully that won’t happen again. It’d nearly be worse if they carved us open and ran through us but at the same time we failed to clear our lines. And if we done that, it could have been a different story in the game. When Kilkenny get a start like that, it’s very hard to keep them back. It could be a good thing too, it could be the kick up the arse we need.”
No better place to channel that pain than against Dublin, a side they have beaten already this year. A side for whom dooming to relegation might be ample revenge for a Leinster loss last year - 0-19 to 2-07.
“I think the one thing we learned is that we have to convert our chances because we created more chances than Dublin that day,” Canning reflects. “I found it actually funny the scrutiny we got after that game because we had a serious amount of chances that day to win the game and we still only lost by a couple of points.
“And we weren’t that far off if you actually look at it - if you look at it properly. People look at it from their own angle and that’s fair enough too, but I don’t think we were as bad as people made out that day.”
You cannot blame Canning for looking forward to the sunny days when fog and rain is all around. True, his side created two chances more (36 to 34) than Dublin in Tullamore last year but up until Ryan O’Dwyer was sent off on 57 minutes - with Dublin 0-18 to 1-6 up - it was 30 chances to Galway’s 26. An angle Canning won’t agree with, but at no point was it Galway’s game.
In the first round of the league, at no point was it not during a 0-20 to 0-13 win over Anthony Daly’s men. “I think they got a bit of a shock that day we beat them,” adds Canning ahead of this weekend’s threat of reprisal.
“I think they like playing us for some reason, because they didn’t have a strong team out - their best 15 out against Waterford. They kind of want us to play I suppose and that tell us something as well I suppose.”
What that tells him he doesn’t say. It’s mouth closed but mind open.
Joe Canning was speaking at Croke Park as Etihad announced a new five-year sponsorship of the hurling championship.